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RealNetworks bows Take5

Software distrib set to move into e-content

RealNetworks, signaling a shift from being an online audio and video software distrib to a content player, today is expected to unveil the bells and whistles of its latest RealPlayer7, which includes Take5, a daily vid and music magazine, among other features.

Take5, built into the new redesigned player, available to download for free from real.com, will feature content from more than 100 Internet programmers including ABC, CNN, ESPN, MTV Online, Comedy Central, Fox News, SciFi.com and NBC.

Service will also feature exclusive “premieres” of new content, with one being audio-based “Alien Voices,” from Leonard Nimoy. AtomFilms and PBS affiliate KCTS are also providing original content.

“Real.com Take5 was designed to provide consumers with five minutes of the best programming on the Internet every day,” said Tom Frank, chief operating officer of RealNetworks.

The RealPlayer interface, which includes breaking news flashes, also enables the size of the video to be enlarged to full-screen. The small size of online video, usually the size of a Post It note, has been a major drawback to watching online video.

The player is also expected to operate 40% faster than previous versions and features a revamped Real.com Guide that lets users search through listings of downloadable music, more than 1,700 radio and TV stations, 5,000 Web sites and 500 daily live events. Service also incorporates e-commerce.

The announcement comes on the heels of embarrassing revelations last week that RealNetworks was quietly gathering data on the listening habits of its RealJukebox customers. It issued a statement that it would no longer gather such information.

It also comes after the company has tried to take a stake in the growing downloadable music market.

In May, RealNetworks launched RealJukebox, which enables users to transfer digital MP3 music files onto discs. In August, the company secured another stake in the arena by pacting with Warner Music Group to offer popular songs for download on RealJukebox.

More than 85 million Netizens have downloaded RealPlayer since its bow.

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