The New York Times reported that TiVo and Amazon are teaming up to enable consumers to shop from their TV's. Some of the first shows to try it out will be The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Late Show with David Letterman. They'll offer the books, CD's, and DVD's that guests will be promoting when on the shows.
On the one hand, this is producer nirvana. I've spoken with a couple of producers for cable channels, and they consider this the holy grail - to be able to quantify their audiences not in terms of reach, but in terms of immediate market potential. In terms of sales.
Books, movies, and music are an easy way to go. I'm curious how this might ever possibly work for fashion or home decor, because it seems like the potential will only ever apply to first-run shows. But maybe that's how to make them TiVo-proof, with a certain degree of irony there - imagine, "Tonight's episode of Gossip Girls will feature limited availability of Serena's and Nate's outfits, provided by [insert brand name here]. Don't miss your chance at getting the look!"
There's one other implication to consider about this kind of matchup. Our whole world of advertising and retail is built on the assumption that there is a gap between when a consumer may decide they want a product, and when they actually purchase it. In the case of something seen on TV, once you decided you wanted, say, Serena's shoes from Gossip Girl, you had to figure out who made them, find out who sells them, make sure they fit at some point (though this could be after you've purchased them), and then actually buy them. This link between a set-top box that enables interactive and internet access, and a retail store that enables commerce short-circuits that whole process. And it's not the only technology doing that: mobile phones, even consumers with wireless laptops sitting in front of the TV change this dynamic.
Do retailers need to become producers? Some CPG brands have already gotten into the mix. But it's a lot harder to enable the commerce than it is to feature the product.