I noticed an article this morning in the Hollywood Reporter about the purchase of HSN by QVC. This brings me back to my thoughts that it is perhaps easier to make money selling things through programming than it is to sell advertising for things through programming.
The reason QVC works is because they've brought the programming closer in space and time to the purchasing decision. And what gets even closer than QVC? Digital media, where one click starts the object of your desire on its journey to your mailbox (or front doorstep assuming you desire something that won't fit into your mailbox).
This is why I think Amazon is the big dog - quality original programming and selling lots of stuff. That's the winning combination. Entertain people and make money selling them stuff - not just motivating them to go buy stuff somewhere else.
There are other companies who have had this vision for a long time as well. Overstock.com talked about aggressively pursuing original programming over 2 years ago (not sure what happened there). And Joyus.com is a well-funded venture combining programs and commerce (although it feels like a lot of short infomercials to me). I even heard that Etsy wants to be in the programming game.
In truth, I think the real players in this space have yet to emerge. They probably have some little web series on YouTube that will suddenly (after years of trying) break out and start driving sales. The key is to make money off of the commerce that they're driving because people will continue to buy stuff, but they won't continue to pay much for programming.
And of course, the platform to focus on is mobile. That's where the Internet is moving and that's increasingly where digital programming and commerce will continue to grow.