RealNetworks bows subscription plan

$9.95-a-month service piques H'w'd's interest

RealNetworks unveiled a subscription plan Tuesday, which if successful, could provide the answer Hollywood has long been looking for to make money from Web content.

The Seattle-based company said it would begin kicking off a new subscription service in the coming months that, for $9.95 a month, delivers exclusive content like Internet games, videos, musicvids and tracks, special events, cartoons and software upgrades to already paying users of its RealPlayer GoldPass service.

If successful, move lets RealNetworks grow beyond its core Internet media software business and turn into a cable-like channel for entertainment content. Company has already spent the last year slowly moving into the content space, adding more Internet movies and music offerings to its software packages. It already has deals with over 300 content distribs.

The music industry, especially, will be focusing on whether the service works, considering previous plans to launch pay services on Web sites from Sony and House of Blues have sputtered in the days of Napster.

More specifically, the GoldPass will offer archival material from Real.com and Film.com, concerts from House of Blues’ hob.com, docus from the ABC News library and footage such as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Video.

“This is a logical next step for RealNetworks and an important next step for the industry,” said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks. “Twenty years ago the commercial cable industry was born, and over time it sparked the creation of a wealth of new programming and new business models. We think today’s introduction of RealPlayer GoldPass will catalyze similar developments over the Internet.”

RealNetworks software is used by 140 million Netizens, a reach that makes it an alluring partner for traditional media companies looking for a viable way out of the Napster trap.

“One of the reasons we launched this service today is that we do believe that valuable content deserves and needs a great distribution model on the Internet,” Mark Hall, veepee of media programming told Daily Variety. “It provides a huge opportunity for folks that own content with a new means of distribution.”

Hall was coy on revealing what entertainment companies the Netco is looking to pact with, saying that “in this business, we’re talking to everybody all the time.”

The content available with the GoldPass will be updated each month and will eventually expand to include musicvideos, cartoon and, of course, reality programming. In addition, Netizens who subscribe will get premium software and services from the company.

“House of Blues has been a longtime fan of creating new revenue models for artists,” said Philip Fracassi, senior veepee of production and distribution for House of Blues Entertainment, which will provide concerts from bands such as 311, Yes and Motley Crue to the service. “We think that RealNetworks has developed a great testing ground for consumers and we are excited about being part of these first steps.”

RealNetworks stock closed up almost 6% in trading Tuesday to $43.88. This is still significantly down from the Netco’s one-year high, which was $96.

More Digital

  • Vobile - ZEFR acquisition - Yangbin

    Zefr Sells Its Copyright-Flagging and YouTube Channel-Management Businesses to Vobile for $90 Million

    Vobile Group, a video protection and measurement company, announced a deal to acquire Zefr’s RightsID copyright-management and ChannelID YouTube channel-management businesses for about $90 million. According to the companies, Zefr’s RightsID and ChannelID together generated over $40 million in revenue in 2018 and were profitable. The deal stands to more than triple the revenue for [...]

  • Justin Connolly

    Disney Merges All Media Sales and TV Channel Distribution Under Justin Connolly

    Disney promoted Justin Connolly to the new role of president, media distribution, overseeing a single organization that combines all of the company’s media sales and TV channel distribution operations. Connolly previously served as EVP, affiliate sales and marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks. Based in New York, he will report to Kevin Mayer, chairman of [...]

  • NASA - International Space Station

    Hulu Is Getting NASA TV in Time for the Moon Landing Anniversary

    Hulu’s live TV service is getting NASA TV just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. In addition to a live feed, which is available only to subscribers of Hulu’s live TV tier, Hulu is also gaining access to select NASA TV series on demand. The live TV deal was announced [...]

  • iheartmedia logo

    iHeartMedia Stock Drops in NASDAQ Debut

    Shares of iHeartMedia, the U.S.’s biggest radio network, fell as much as 7% after they commenced trading Thursday on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, and ended the day down around 3%. Last month, after exiting a year-long bankruptcy reorg, iHeartMedia announced it was approved for listing on NASDAQ, instead of pursuing an IPO. The company’s [...]

  • iHeartMedia-Pride-Media-TheOutcast-Logo

    iHeartMedia, Pride Media to Co-Produce Slate of LGBTQ+ Podcasts

    iHeartMedia is teaming with Pride Media, the media company whose brands include Out, The Advocate and Pride, to co-produce a slate of LGBTQ+ podcasts in 2019-20. The partnership will kick off with “The Outcast,” an iHeartRadio original podcast co-produced with Out Magazine. Hosted by Out Magazine deputy editor Fran Tirado, the weekly podcast will explore [...]

  • Netflix Reed Hastings

    Netflix Shares Dive After Q2 Stumble: Just a Hiccup or Sign of Bigger Trouble?

    Netflix badly undershot its subscriber forecasts for the second quarter of 2019 — posting its first net U.S. customer decline since 2011 while growth slowed considerably overseas. The company added 2.7 million subs worldwide, almost half as many as the 5 million it had projected. With the big miss, Netflix shares took a predictable hit, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content