The Cutthroat World Of QVC Host Auditions

QVC creeps us out, but we do occasionally wonder, ever so briefly, who these people are and how they came to be hosts on QVC. And now that the New York Times has told us they make $500,000 a year, we’re positively enthralled:

“Most people show up thinking it’s easy,” said Jack Comstock, the vice president for television sales at QVC. In his 14 years at the network, he has hired 18 of its 23 hosts. “But it’s difficult to find someone that can really talk to the camera as if it was their friend.”

Rare is the Hollywood movie, network television program or Broadway show that casts its stars from an open call. But QVC, a $7 billion annual business, where hosts can have television careers that span decades, does. The nominal stars of QVC are the budget clothing and jewelry designers who offer their creations, inventors touting new housewares and faded celebrities with exercise programs. But on a network that can move tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise a minute, the host plays a crucial role: part cheerleader for a celebrity guest, part M.C. executing the orders of producers to end a slow-selling item’s airtime gracefully, part fantasy friend to viewers, coaxing them to call.

It’s a rare skill set, and industry sources say the network is willing to compensate hosts for it extremely well, up to $500,000 a year.

Damn. We are in the wrong profession. —MEGHANN MARCO

The Biggest Sell Is the Audition