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Real Networks

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RealNetworks is a provider of Internet media delivery software and services based in Seattle, Washington, United States. The company is best known for the creation of RealAudio, a compressed audio format, RealVideo, a compressed video format and RealPlayer, a media player. The company is also known for its subscription-based online entertainment services like Rhapsody, SuperPass, and RealArcade, and for its media properties like Film.com and RollingStone.com (which it operates in partnership with Rolling Stone owners Wenner Media).

RealMedia streaming files can contain RealAudio and RealVideo streams, and several other formats like SMIL. Helix DNA is their free software / open source media framework. Most of the source code (excluding the codecs) is released under various free software licences, like the RealNetworks Public Source License starting in 2003 and the GPL in 2004.

In August 2003, RealNetworks acquired Listen.com's Rhapsody music service, and renamed it RealRhapsody (which includes Rhapsody Radish). It offers streaming music downloads for a monthly fee. In January 2004, RealNetworks announced that they are creating RealPlayer Music Store, featuring DRM-restricted music in the AAC file format. After some initial tries to push their own DRM scheme (named Helix DRM) onto all device manufacturers with the Creative Zen Xtra and the Sansa e200r as the only existing compliant devices, they sparked controversy by introducing a technology called Harmony that allowed their music to play on iPods as well as Microsoft Windows Media Audio DRM-equipped devices using a "wrapper" that would convert Helix DRM into the two other target DRM schemes.

The domain real.com attracted at least 67 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.

RealNetworks
RealNetworks was one of the pioneers of the streaming media, both in software and content. In 2000, one of the initial products, the download manager RealDownload, was already used for pushing small software, such as games, to subscribers' computers. On top of the subscription for RealDownload and using its RealVideo streaming technology, a service called GoldPass, including unlimited access for video snippets from ABC and movie previews, was offered to registered users for a $10 a month fee.. More content was added through deals with CBS for the reality show Big Brother and NBA basketball.

In the next few years, RealNetworks went though an inclusive phase, adding content from CNN, ESPN. A deal with AOL saw RealNetworks offering NetMusic.com, a music subscription service, to AOL subscribers and RealPlayer bundled with AOL's acquisition, the browser Netscape. GoldPass was rebranded SuperPass.

After the dot-com crash, RealNetworks cut most of the resources. Some of the content was lost, some was limited to local markets (e.g., Ministry of Sound was available only to UK subscribers). With the increase in broadband usage, RealNetworks started offering live broadcasts of CNN International, BBC World, Al-Jazeera etc., separately for prices between $6 and $12, or bundled in the SuperPass for about $35 a month depending on the market. Between 2003 and 2006, SuperPass included, for European subscribers, unlimited access to UEFA Champions League full-length game recordings.

The domain real.com attracted at least 67 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.

Subscription services

RealNetworks was one of the pioneers of the streaming media, both in software and content. In 2000, one of the initial products, the download manager RealDownload, was already used for pushing small software, such as games, to subscribers' computers. On top of the subscription for RealDownload and using its RealVideo streaming technology, a service called GoldPass, including unlimited access for video snippets from ABC and movie previews, was offered to registered users for a $10 a month fee. More content was added through deals with CBS for the reality show Big Brother and NBA basketball.

In the next few years, RealNetworks went though an inclusive phase, adding content from CNN, ESPN. A deal with AOL saw RealNetworks offering NetMusic.com, a music subscription service, to AOL subscribers and RealPlayer bundled with AOL's acquisition, the browser Netscape. GoldPass was rebranded SuperPass.

After the dot-com crash, RealNetworks cut most of the resources. Some of the content was lost, some was limited to local markets (e.g., Ministry of Sound was available only to UK subscribers). With the increase in broadband usage, RealNetworks started offering live broadcasts of CNN International, BBC World, Al-Jazeera etc., separately for prices between $6 and $12, or bundled in the SuperPass for about $35 a month depending on the market. Between 2003 and 2006, SuperPass included, for European subscribers, unlimited access to UEFA Champions League full-length game recordings.

 

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