CES: RealNetworks, HP, Cox to promote Rhapsody

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RealNetworks Inc. will unveil a new partnership with a cable operator and an expanded relationship with a PC maker to promote its Rhapsody music service at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Thursday.

RealNetworks, based in Seattle, has struck a deal with Cox Communications Inc. to provide Cox high-speed Internet subscribers with access to Rhapsody’s music, streaming radio and other media content services, the company will announce at CES. The company also is working with Hewlett-Packard Co. to provide easy access to the Rhapsody service on more PCs.

Customers of Cox’s high-speed Internet service can sign up for Rhapsody and get charged for the online subscription service in their Cox cable bills, according to RealNetworks. Under the terms of the deal, customers also can access Rhapsody from Microsoft Corp. Windows, Apple Macintosh or Linux computers without download client software, the company said.

RealNetworks already has a similar deal with Comcast Corp., said RealNetworks spokeswoman Ronda Scott in an e-mail message. The new deal with Cox means RealNetworks now is working with two of the top three cable providers in the U.S. to provide Rhapsody to more high-speed Internet customers, she said.

Through an expanded relationship with HP, the Rhapsody service now will be available through the RealPlayer jukebox software on the HP Pavilion, Compaq Presario and HP Pavilion Media Center TV PC lines, according to the company. The RealNetworks RealPlayer has shipped on these lines before, Scott said, but for the first time it will be the default player on these PCs for major audio formats, including RealAudio, Windows Media Audio, AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and MP3.

RealNetworks is slugging it out with competitors such as Microsoft Corp., with its Windows Media Player, and Apple, with its iTunes music service, to provide software and services for playing and purchasing digital music.

During Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates’ keynote address Wednesday evening at CES, the software company was to unveil a new deal with MTV Networks to provide its Urge music service on Windows Media Player. The deal will give Windows Media Player 11 users access to 2 million songs and exclusive content. That software will be available on the next version of the Windows client OS, Windows Vista, which is expected to ship before the end of the year.

This story, "CES: RealNetworks, HP, Cox to promote Rhapsody" was originally published by PCWorld.

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