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AOL adds streaming vid, aud

Broadband customers get upgrade

America Online has unveiled its AOL Plus service, which is capable of delivering multimedia content and features — including full-motion video and streaming audio — to subscribers using AOL 5.0 software over any broadband connection.

House of Blues Digital and Launch Media are two of the firms that will generate content for the service. House of Blues Digital will provide one exclusive live concert Webcast each week as well as create an archive of on-demand concerts tailored to a variety of musical genres, including rock, pop, alternative, hip-hop and country.

The firm also will design a co-branded HOB.com Web site exclusively for AOL members that will feature a diverse selection of content for narrowband and broadband users. This co-branded site will give AOL members easy access to HOB.com’s live music content. AOL Plus and House of Blues Digital have agreed to develop pay-per-view programming for the broadband service as well.

“The spirit of the deal is to convert the 22 million narrowband AOL users to broadband and get their eyeballs to look at House of Blues events,” said House of Blues Digital senior veep of programming Philip Fracassi. “By creating a killer app for America Online it’s the best of both worlds. Right now AOL users don’t have the capability to see our pay-per-view events.”

Fracassi said the initial deal is one year in length and will work as a promotional agreement wherein the two companies refer users back and forth to each other.

Meanwhile, Launch will expand on its existing relationship with AOL by providing AOL Plus users with access to its top music videos of the week.

Speaking at the Spring Internet World confab, Launch chair-CEO Dave Goldberg said that while most of the site’s users now access via a 28K or 56K modem, he believes the switch to broadband is inevitable.

“All of this is centered around getting people what they want and introducing people to new music,” Goldberg said. “Right now it’s almost impossible to find videos on MTV anymore.”

While CBS MarketWatch, CNET Networks and CNN are among the other firms that’ll provide AOL Plus with content, the parent company plans to expand the new service into shopping, games, autos, and real estate over the next several months.

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