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Americans are increasingly likely to channel-surf right past infomercials, home shopping stations and other direct-response television spots that call on consumers to order now, states a report released in February by the Electronic Retailing Association. According to a nationally representative telephone survey of 300 people age 16 and older that was commissioned by the Arlington, Va.-based trade association, 63 percent of Americans have watched at least one of the three forms of direct-response television advertising, down from 81 percent who said they had done so when polled in 1994. Specifically, the percentage of respondents who have watched direct-response commercials (between 30 seconds and two minutes in length) fell to 42 percent in 2002 from 62 percent in 1994. In the same period, the share of infomercial viewers declined to 35 percent from 47 percent. And though a third of Americans today say they watch live shopping shows, like those on QVC, that's nothing compared with the 54 percent of adults who did so back in 1994. Overall, 37 percent of Americans say they have actually been enticed to buy a product they saw advertised on TV. Of those, 76 percent purchased the product from a retail store or through the Internet, and 59 percent dialed the phone number on the screen to reach operators, who were, of course, standing by.

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