RealOne final bowed with faster streaming

MLB, CNN, E! to use subscription-based service

RealNetworks launched the final version of its RealOne subscription software Tuesday, offering Netizens not only more exclusive programming but shorter wait times to view streamed content.

Already featured on Real’s GoldPass before it became part of RealOne, Major League Baseball plans to use the subscription-based service to broadcast con-densed 20-minute versions of all baseball games in the 2002 season. Video will contain all the hits, runs and outs, but will omit the downtime between plays.

That programming will be broadcast alongside radio broadcasts of roughly 4,000 baseball games already featured on the MLB.com channel on RealOne, which began last year.

CNN has joined Real’s news offering, replicating a move recently made by ABCNews.com, with plans to generate more dollars for its broadcasts. CNN will stop featuring free video on its own site and will use RealOne to charge for its news.

Additionally, E! said it plans to give viewers an all-access pass to its Oscar coverage, offering exclusive red-carpet, party and backstage programming from the kudocast. It also will give RealOne members access to footage from E!’s Oscar coverage from the past five years.

Other RealOne content partners include: FOXSports.com, iFILM, NASCAR.com, NBA, ON24, VastVideo and the Weather Channel. They’re using Re-alOne to repurpose content and generate dollars from Web users.

Payment to program providers is either based per monthly premium subscriber or on usage, depending on the quality or demand of the content. Determina-tion of who receives advertising revenues also depends on who is selling the ad time.

RealOne, which is rebranding its GoldPass subscription service as SuperPass, has about 500,000 paying subscribers, charging $9.95 a month to access its ex-clusive sports, news and entertainment, music and 40 channels of commercial-free radio programming.

However, RealNetworks boasts 250 million registered users of its RealPlayer video software, a group that Real is hoping to convert to paying subs, especially now that half of all Internet users in the U.S. are connected via broadband.

And it hopes a new improvement in its streaming capabilities will attract more Netizens to its pay service.

The company has launched what it calls “TurboPlay,” which gives users of high-speed Internet connections near-instant video and audio playback and elim-nates much of the delay time now associated with loading streamed programming. Technology uses a Netizen’s available bandwidth on a broadband connection, increasing the speed of streaming more than fivefold, combining “the quality and responsiveness of traditional television with the interactivity of the Internet,” said RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser.

Seattle-based RealNetworks introduced RealOne, which combines the company’s RealPlayer, RealJukebox and subscription-based GoldPass, in December.

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