Mr. Shop At Home Strikes Again

Tired of lounging on the couch, ordering kaftans from the Home Shopping Network? How about getting some theater tickets? Either way, Barry Diller's got you covered. On May 20, the HSN chairman announced a deal to buy Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's 47.5% stake in Ticketmaster, the nation's largest ticket outlet. Together, Home Shopping and Ticketmaster will hawk everything from Spice Girls tickets to cubic zirconia jewelry.

The estimated $210 million price--which Allen is taking in the form of HSN shares--also gets Diller a network of 2,500 retail outlets, 16 nationwide phone call centers, and a fledgling online ticketing service. Diller figures he can scare up new business with companies that want to lease their phone operations. The combined company hopes to dominate the $60 billion market for fulfilling direct-mail orders.

Sources say Diller broached the deal to get a stronger foothold in the shop-at-home business. He's expected to buy another 2.5% of Ticketmaster's stock.

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