Argos and Woolworths have pulled the plug on sales through Sky Digital interactive TV.
The two High Street retailers did not give specific reasons for their decisions but reports suggest that the amount they had to pay Sky to feature on the service was a factor.
"Both Argos and Woolworths left last Wednesday for their own commercial reasons," said a Sky spokeswoman. "Argos is concentrating on its website and Woolworths left because it is over viewing all its multimedia outlets and keeping a watch on the interactive TV market."
The news comes as a blow to Sky, which offers interactive shopping, banking and games through its Sky Active service as well as email through the TV.
The company admitted last summer that take up of TV email was low. In July it said it had no plans to extend its TV-based service because it was only being used by about 20 per cent of its subscribers. This latest news further undermines TV-based interactive services.
Several High Street brands still appear on Sky Active. A number of banks signed up to let customers access accounts through the service, including Abbey National, Woolwich and Egg. Customers can also buy holidays from travel agents including Going Places, Thomas Cook and First Choice.
Argos and Woolworths are believed to have achieved a good level of sales through TV and were among the first retailers to feature on Sky's interactive service.
However, retailers wanting to sell goods and services via interactive digital TV face entry barriers. Digital TV operators ask companies that wish to be hosted on their systems to pay a fee, although Sky would not say how much that fee was.
In addition, websites have to be rewritten to suit the operator's own platform. To make a web page viewable on the Sky Digital system it must be written on Sun Microsystem's OpenTV platform, while cable operators use software by Liberate, and ITVDigital uses Media Highway.
Sky is now migrating services to Wireless Markup Language, a language similar to HTML, which will speed the process of adapting web content for its Sky Active service, the spokeswoman said.
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