AFTER weeks of silence and a noticeable decline of fanbois and girls on his public Facebook page, Jim Skelton is again interacting with the public at said page. While only an anecdotal observation, It seems that as his absence from cable has dragged on, he began receiving less adoration and responses to wall posts. His continual thanking of people for their support also suggests that he had no call in the decision to leave the number three network. As were the tone of the calls when he was a host, every post on his public page seems to follow the same narrative – you got me into collecting; “I know longer” purchase watches from ShopNBC; that British guy sucks; Tim Temple sucks; when are you going somewhere to sell me watches…

He’s also taking swipes at his former employer;

“Yeah, they’ve been KILLING prices and maxing out Value Pays lately… wonder why huh? LOL”

As well as at fellow hosts:

“At the least, with Daniel you don’t ever have to endure “Ummm”, “Uhhhh” every 3rd word because he is a true professional in front of the camera. Can’t say that for everyone though…” Clearly this is in reference to Tim Temple who’s “uhhh” and “ummm” are his signature presentation style.

“I do not watch the shows. The RARE occasion I do, I will only watch Daniel or Shawn.” This is funny because he accused Wilsey of grandstanding when he publicly left Watchgeeks – guess he hates Tim “Replaced me” Temple that much more.

“I honestly think Mike (and select other vendor guests) are the only life & personality left on the watch shows.”

As this blog previously reported, the word was that Jim Skelton was very uncool to Tim Temple when they had run in’s after the later was replaced by ShopNBC. Stories have also been floating around that Skelton tried to undermine Temple when he was brought back – again, these are unsubstantiated but Skelton’s past behavior on TV and even this blog suggests an unsavory personality.

THE big question is, where will Skelton end up? He’ll definitely generate sales as there are people waiting for him to tell them what to buy. Will it be JTV? He’d fit in well with the white trash hosts on that network. Will he end up at WOW? That’s starting to seem unlikely. WOW is blowing it out with Charla and I doubt his salary would be worth the slight increase in sales. I used to think that we’d see Invicta TV with Skelton as the host, but after telling Jill Sommerstein she should have twins and name one Holocaust, leaving her visibly upset, that is not going to happen either.

He’s hinting that something is going to happen. Maybe it will be live on Stickam from the couches of those still “caught up in his allure”

One things for sure, it’s funny how it’s come full circle and Temple has replaced an apparently fired Skelton and it makes this Michael “Fuckin” Davis post from December of 2008 even funnier:

Considering how and under what circumstances Tim left SNBC “back in the day”, I doubt that would be the last place he would show up. While he may be liked there by some of the old timers, I am willing to bet that there is still enough management around to remember how he left to go start up a direct competitor and took 3 or 4 of the most popular hosts with him.

I wish no one at JTV any ill will, but it is not looking good at the moment.
__________________
Michael

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MIGHT the exit of Jim Skelton from ShopNBC be due to eroding watch sales?

Just days after ShopNBC released Q4 results for 2010, Mr. Skelton disappeared from the airwaves and neither side is saying anything of substance. You’ll remember that I speculated he would be gone a year ago following a series of bizarre, on-air actions and statements in October of 2009 after the announcement that Tim Temple was being brought back to the network who had fired him six years prior. What followed were twelve months that saw one Invicta flop and scandal after another. But dead watches and hands that fell off were not limited to Invicta as other brands sold by the network arrived in non-working order to customers. Mr. Skelton continued his hostile behavior, famously throwing a ruler on the set and teasing Larry Magen about his dye job to the point that Mr. Magen snapped on the air. Mr. Skelton was also absent for long stretches of time, leading many to believe that the end of the Skelton era had arrived. Upon his return he began calling out this blog as well as individual members of the Watchlords forum as well as adopting a very snide tone with his forum membership.

As people complained on watchgeeks about inferior products and misleading statements used to sell the watches they were systematically banned or bullied by the Yellow shirt enforcers into silence on the Watchgeek forum. But these heavy handed actions didn’t stop the descent; seemingly generating more. As the one year anniversary of my original blog approached, Mr. Skelton started bragging about signing a long term, no cut contract.

EVEN I was surprised when I saw the news. I assumed I had seemingly made the correct case but was off by a year. I did forget about the earnings call and so I took a look at the earnings information released by VVTV. At first I was equally shocked about the 6% decline in watch sales against the same time period last year at the psychological height of the depression. But is it really that shocking? The former individual owners of Watchgeeks, as well as others who I’d consider friends of this blog, usually downplay my suggestion that Shop watch sales were driven primarily by Watchgeek membership and it has always been thought, albeit anecdotally, that all of the testimonial calls into Mr. Skelton’s shows were plants. But in a thread on WG concerning Mr. Skelton’s split with Shop, we seem to have proof:

A friendship developed on email, and we would exchange idea’s and questions on the timepiece’s. One day Jim emailed me and asked to call into the show, as a customer, who, wanted to express feelings about timepiece’s and invicta models and my experience’s with them.

I called in several times, regarding many timepiece’s and vendor models as well.

I don’t think it is a stretch to believe that Mr. Skelton had bonuses tied to sales and he was not your ordinary shopping channel host. He was a cheerleader and apologist for Invicta long before he ever came to TV, possibly with a retail background. By some accounts a hand picked successor to Tim Temple by Eyal Cool J. Temple who, supposedly wanted more control over product and to push the higher-end. But realistically the margins are much smaller with those classes of timepieces. It makes a lot more sense to sell a Chinese assembled watch marked “Swiss” at several times it’s actual unit cost. Reaching out to just a few dozen individuals like the person quoted above would not only generate sales because of an implied “friendship” but would push other members into making multiple purchases as well; specifically shut ins and individuals with little or no self esteem and a need to belong.

BUT the decline in sales doesn’t fall completely on Mr. Skelton. ShopNBC advertised diamonds on watches that were actually crystal; they marketed Chinese made watches as having a Swiss pedigree; they used a man-made composite of sandstone and marketed it as natural; they sold turquoise dial watches that were a cheap mineral alternative and they sold watches that featured hands that fell of. People started criticizing the fact that every hyped model was just a different color dial or rubber instead of a steel bracelet like the previous version. Again, the complaints grew louder and those voices disappeared. Michael Davis, at the time a Watchgeek owner and still the Technical Brand Manager for Invicta, issued the now famous edict – there is no free speech at Watchgeeks.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that people tired of getting products that were advertised as something they were not and that they tired of the heavy handedness of the forum. I’d expect a decline in sales to follow. Need more proof? Just take a look at how outrageous his sales presentations became.

IT was my belief in the fall of 2009 that Mr. Skelton would soon be benched. It didn’t come to pass on the original timeline. But now it has, and if we work backwards with a little math based on Mr. Skelton’s own comment on that original blog, he signed in late September or early October of 2009. I’d expect that to run one year, which would have placed his resigning again in that same September / October timeframe. It is now the end of March which would make a late September signing the 6 month mark. I do believe he is going to end up on WoW.tv or an Invicta launched channel. And I think a lot of people will follow him there and he’ll be just fine. Free of the employer oversight that seemingly burned him so many times over the past few years.

Will it be 6 months from now? Is that the real Watch Commander on Twitter claiming to be in Minnesota or an impostor?

Will ShopNBC even be around 6 months from now?

AFTER months of hype and titillation by everyones favorite urbane fashionlessnista, Jim Skelton, the public finally got a glimpse of the much anticipated Invicta
Imperious Jail Bait Jail Break. After the abject failure of the initial InvictaImperious offer, the Gearhead, many wondered if the other proposed models would see the light of day. They have, and boy, are my eyes sore. It’s been speculated
that Mayor McCheesy is the designer behind this line and I have to say – a case could be made. They are obtuse and gaudy and lack any real balance or cohesion as a collection. The fuck is Eyal Laylo thinking to bankroll watches designed by a retail store manager?
Look at his image – I don’t think he could properly design a pile of dirt. Of the four models, the absolute worst of the bad bunch is the Jail Bait Jail Break. From the unaesthetic sideways dial layout that includes a labeled Date arrow
pointing to a nearly impenetrably opaque acrylic dial that obscures
the date wheel to the ridiculous, dare I say, laughable ‘prison’ bars, this thing is the most uninspired, cliche piece that the Invicta Watch Company has churned out yet. I thought Invicta
clearly crossed the taste line with the ARSEnal and the plate sized Sea Hunter, but at least those things still resemble legible timepieces. This thing is the horological equivalent to the Pontiac Aztek. It’s going to be real fun to see who gloats on the various
websites about buying one; more fun still to see actual wrist shots and imagine the chode walking around and flosing the wristshit at their local Walmart trying to impress chicks who are hanging around and waiting for their Valtrex prescriptions to be filed. I cannot wait to see the inital price and watching the trajectory as it bottoms out. That’s going to be some Must See TV. MY nine year old son likes mechanical and automatic watches, and I’ve assembled a nice little collection for him that includes a rose gold Sandoz and a Mil issue Hamilton from 1973. He likes to help me decide what watch I’m going to wear on the days I switch up, and you know –
he’s usually right on. So I asked for his impression. “What do you think of this watch?” “It’s hideous and disgusting – no real man should ever be caught wearing that thing! It’s
G-A-Y…” I gave him that disapproving look as I have a lot of lesbian friends and he acknowledged my grievance. So I offer a qualification and direction “Listen buddy, it’s so gay that gay
people are like – Jesus Christ, that thing is way too gay!”

UPDATE 09/29/2010:

The “drearies” have spoken! They believe that this latest 8-K filing is to protect ShopNBC management from a shareholder revolt. The critics seem to think that Q3 and Q4 will continue to see losses because of needed changes within the current ShopNBC model and a continuing soft economic outlook. I’ve seen predictions from the “cheeries” that the stock would hit $5.00; and after the Q2 results call, it seemed probable. But then Board Chair Randy Ronning sold 70,000 shares and the stock has continued to lose roughly .05 cents a week after a jump to $2.00. At this moment settling in at $1.83.

—————–/-/-/-/-/-:-:————-

From the the homeshoppingista blog yesterday:

Is ShopNBC anticipating a lawsuit?

On Monday the financially ailing No. 3 home shopping network filed an 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission saying that it was entering into indemnification agreements with each of the company’s directors and officers.

“Under each Indemnification Agreement, the Company has agreed to indemnify each director and officer who is involved in any threatened, pending, or completed action, suit, or proceeding, whether civil, criminal, administrative, arbitration or investigative, in connection with his or her service to the Company, against all losses, claims, damages, expenses (including attorneys’ fees), and liabilities reasonably incurred by such person in connection with the proceeding,” the filing said.

“The Company believes that the Indemnification Agreements are necessary to provide directors and officers increased certainty of such protection in the future and to attract and retain qualified persons to serve in such positions,” ShopNBC said.

Mmmm, who might be suing?”

There are an entire list of possible parties. Maybe Plasticase is going after ShopNBC for hawking their dive case design that Invicta allegedly ripped off. Might it be the Swiss Federation for providing a platform for Invicta to market Chinese watches as Swiss Made? Or maybe it is the victims of identity theft related to “insider wrong doing” that was reported to the New York State Consumer Protection Board?

Might Invicta’s year of troubles, which has continued with the, latest TTV RS8 Sea Spider finally burned that brands bridges at the number three tv shopping network and forced managements hand to sever ties with Invicta?

The possibility also exists that employee wrongdoing or questionable actions have opened the network up to liability.

Updates posted as they appear.

THIS was a message sent to a member of the WatchGeek.net forum that Michael Davis co-owns with ShopNBC’s Jim Skelton. It gives you some insight into what that forum is really about and what matters.

And it’s worth noting that since Davis is supposedly an IWG employee, how might he be privy to the amount and number of Value Pays that the individual in question owes?

I’ve bolded some words for emphasis. I think it speaks volumes. Pay up or shut the fuck up.

meijin
WatchGeeks Owner
True WatchGeek

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 11,529
Real Name: Michael
Concerning Horsetrack
Look guys, I don’t know what your issue is with horsetrack, but it ends now. I don’t know if you have been hanging out on the hater sites or what, but you need to take your snide comments off of the site. Either shut up or send them directly to him OFF THE SITE. If either of you continues with your little war, then I will perma-ban you with no further communication and I will make it permanent. Hopefully you both understand me completely and do not think that I am bluffing here.

Now, allow me to tell you a little about Jeff. The man has more money than god. I know people who have personally seen his homes in NY and in FL. They have seen his watch collection. They have seen his cars. They have seen the jewelry his wife wears. He is in the dental business and does damn well at it. I have personally seen what his monthly payments are to SNBC just on his watches. It is more than either of you will probably make in two months. On top of that, he very generously donated thousands of dollars worth of dental service and work to two of our members here and has offered more to those that needed it.

I highly suggest that the both of you put him on your ignore list if you cannot keep your “mouths shut” because the next snide remark will be your last action here.
__________________
Michael

Argument is meant to reveal the truth, not to create it. ~ Edward de Bono

Invicta…in hoc nomen vinces!

From the homeshoppingista blog:

“ValueVision Media, parent of the No. 3 home shopping network, filed a so-called “shelf registration,” or S-3 form, Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the stock offering. ShopNBC declined to comment.

But in its filing the company said that if it doesn’t stem its losses, “We could reduce our operating cash resources to the point where we will not have sufficient liquidity to meet the ongoing cash commitments and obligations to continue operating.

Through a shelf registration, a company can fulfill certain SEC-mandated registration-related procedures before offering shares to the public, which permits the company to go to market more quickly when they are ready to do the public offering. The company essentially puts stock shares “on a shelf” in case it needs to raise capital for any reason.

We have a history of losses and a high fixed cost operating base and may not be able to achieve or maintain profitable operations in the future.

In its filing, ShopNBC said it had operating losses of about $41.2 million, $88.5 million and $23.1 million in the years ended January 30, 2010 (“fiscal 2009”), January 31, 2009 (“fiscal 2008”) and February 2, 2008 (“fiscal 2007”), respectively.

It also reported a net loss of $42 in fiscal 2009 and a net loss in fiscal 2008 of $97.8 million.

“While we reported net income of $22.5 million in fiscal 2007, this was due to the $40.2 million pre-tax gain we recorded on the sale of our equity interest in Ralph Lauren Media, LLC, operator of the polo.com website,” the S-3 filing said. “There is no assurance that we will be able to achieve or maintain profitable operations in future fiscal years.”

ShopNBC said it has high fixed costs, primarily driven by fixed fees on the merchandise it sells to cable and satellite operators in exchange for distribution.

“In order to operate on a profitable basis, we must reach and maintain sufficient annual sales revenues to cover our high fixed cost base and/or negotiate a reduction in this cost structure,” the filing said. “If our sales levels are not sufficient to cover our operating expenses, our ability to reduce operating expenses in the near term will be limited by the fixed cost base. In that case, our earnings, cash balance and growth prospects could be materially and adversely affected.”

ShopNBC reported that it has limited unrestricted cash to fund its operations, $20.9 million as of May 1, 2010 (with an additional $4.9 million of cash that is restricted and used to secure letters of credit and similar arrangements).

“We expect to use our cash to fund any further operating losses, to finance our working capital requirements and to make necessary capital expenditures in order to operate our business,” the filing said. “We also have significant future commitments for our cash, primarily payments for our cable and satellite program distribution obligations and redemption of our Series B Preferred Stock. If our vendors or service providers were to demand a shift from our current payment terms to upfront prepayments or require cash reserves, this will have a significant adverse impact.”

It appears that ShopNBC’s shareholder GE Capital Equity will have to approve the offering, according to an 8-K that the network filed with the SEC in June.

“On June 10, 2010, our board of directors authorized the filing of a shelf registration statement on Form S-3 with the Securities and Exchange Commission covering the sale by our company of up to $75,000,000 of securities, including common stock, preferred stock, warrants, units and stock purchase contracts,” the company said in that filing. “Our shareholders agreement with GE Capital Equity Investments, Inc. (“GE Equity”) and NBC Universal, Inc. require the consent of GE Equity in order for our company to issue new equity securities and to incur indebtedness above certain thresholds, and there can be no assurance that we would receive such consent if we made a request.”

ShopNBC’s largest shareholder, NBC Universal, back on June 24 decided not to sell its 6,452,194 shares in the home shopping network “due to prevailing prices.”

Who knew that the distant number 3 network was in such financial dire straits? My guess is that repeated scandal after scandal from one of the networks cash cows, Invicta, has surely taken a toll. From the faulty Ocean Quest screw design and moldy dive cases; to Swinagate and the Great D-D Debacle of 2010, the 27 hours of watches marathon revealed few Invicta sellouts compared to last years event. And the revelation just the other day that watches marketed as having diamonds but actually containing crystals surely is not going to help sales.

I wonder if ShopNBC Host Jim Skelton, who recently went on a very public spending spree buying two cars, a new house and a shit ton of knives, all while working a few weeks over several months with one medical ailment after another, might now be regretting blowing all that cash?

What would ShopNBC’s demise mean for all of those stuck with bad watches from the past 7 months?

IT has been a summer of scandal for the Invicta Watch Group following a winter of troubles.

The latest IWG problem for July is with the Invicta II Women’s Classique Boutique Quartz Diamond watch. The ‘diamond’ bit is as flawed as Diamond Jim!

Let’s start with the ShopNBC description:

“The round 316L stainless steel case comes in your choice of gold-tone, silver-tone and even two-tone if you can’t make up your mind. The gold-tone and silver-tone options display coordinating bezels while the two-tone option displays a silver-tone case with a gold-tone bezel. Twenty four beautiful diamond accents are set around the bezel.

The 316L stainless steel bracelet displays in the case coordinating color and the gold-tone is plated in 18K gold. The two-tone option appears in both gold-tone and silver-tone. Notice two diamond accented bracelet links located near the dial totaling an additional 18 diamond accents.”

UNFORTUNATLY for one consumer, the sad truth was revealed by a local jeweler where he took his wife’s newly acquired timepiece to replace a diamond that had fallen out, only to find out that the ‘diamonds’ are actually crystals! This scandal surfaced like the others; on the Watchgeeks website. CZ Jim Skelton quickly stepped in and locked the thread down.

Like the Swinese revelation, ShopNBC quickly moved to pull down videos that featured Shop and Invicta employees promoting the value of the pieces because of the diamonds. The diamonds being a major point of the sales presentation.

One is reminded of the ShopNBC/Renato scandal a few years ago where Renato diamond timepieces where sold with claims that the diamond quality was much higher than they actually were. This resulted in a timeout for the brand which has recently resurfaced on the number three network. When is Invicta going to get a time out? When are watchgeek/Invicta consumers going to stop buying this junk?

Some are claiming that they attempted to alert both the network and fellow TV brand watch collectors that the watch did not have diamonds; only to be rebuffed as any truth apparently is in the world of TV watch collecting. If this is truly the case, one wonders why the self described horological genius, who just so happens to rep diamonds in his internet forum handle, Jim Skelton didn’t pick up on this or how Michael “Grape Ape” Davis, Invicta’s Technical Brand Manager missed it? I mean these folks will tell you they are experts but oddly enough are only hosts and salesman whenever scandals break. Really, what’s the difference between this watch and the Waltham Crystal Kitty watch that the network has sold? About plus $80 for the Infauxta.

INVICTA made a pretty decent $100 watch back in the day. Then they attempted to market high-end pieces and have not faired well in doing so with countless issues and questions. Now they’ve somehow managed to not even make a good cheap watch anymore.