NEW YORK, Aug. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- RealNetworks, Inc. (Nasdaq:
RNWK), MTV Networks, a division of VIACOM International (NYSE: VIA and
VIA.B), and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications
(NYSE: VZ), and Vodafone (LSE: VOD) today announced they are teaming to
create a single, integrated digital music experience that consumers can
access via their PC, portable music device or mobile phone. Promising to be
ultra-rich in music culture, programming and discovery, Rhapsody will unite
the best of RealNetworks' market-leading service and MTV Networks
critically acclaimed URGE music service. Verizon Wireless' V CAST Music --
the most successful mobile music service in the country -- will become the
mobile platform for the integrated Rhapsody service.
As part of this alliance, MTV Networks and Real are forming a new
company, Rhapsody America, whose offering will be the exclusive digital
music service for Real and for MTV Networks' premier music and pop culture
brands in the United States. Both partners will bring complementary
strengths, including MTV Network's storied history in music programming,
unparalleled connection with music fans, and youth marketing prowess, with
Real's innovative technology, market momentum for Rhapsody, and deep
relationships within the consumer electronics industry. Michael Bloom,
previously General Manager of MTV Network's URGE, will lead Rhapsody
America, which will have offices in New York, Seattle and San Francisco.
Real and MTV Networks, through their Rhapsody America venture, have
formed a long-term, groundbreaking and exclusive relationship with Verizon
Wireless, in which the companies will be partners in bringing consumers
digital music to their PCs and over the air to their mobile phones. Through
the relationship with Verizon Wireless, Rhapsody will be fully integrated
with VCAST Music, delivering a superior music service across multiple
"With RealNetworks and Verizon Wireless, we're creating a unique and
engaging experience that also reflects our own strategy of allowing fans to
go narrow and deep into the musical genres they love," said Judy McGrath,
Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks. "Any time we can partner with industry
leaders like this to create a new music proposition, everyone wins,
especially the audience."
"Today's announcements represent a sea-change in the digital music
market," said Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO, RealNetworks. "By partnering
with MTV Networks, home of the most storied brands in music history, and
the market's leading wireless company, Verizon Wireless, we'll make
Rhapsody the premier digital music service that delivers great music to
millions of consumers whenever and wherever they want."
"By bringing together the cultural and musical heritage of the MTV
Networks family with the functionality of Rhapsody and the reach of V CAST
Music, it's like we've put the best lead singer, drummer and guitarist all
on the same giant stage, allowing music fans to experience the purest music
play in any way they want," said Van Toffler, President of MTV Networks
Music & Logo Group. "The new Rhapsody will build on the musical curation of
URGE and have the marketing power of MTV, VH1 and CMT behind it, ensuring
this new platform is front and center in the hearts and minds of music
John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of
Verizon, said, "Our commitment to innovation and making V CAST Music the #1
mobile music service in the country has led to today's momentous
announcement. Verizon's alignment with these two great companies -- MTV
Networks' music and youth marketing expertise with RealNetworks' acclaimed
service and technology -- promises to propel digital music into an exciting
new future. Together, our three companies will provide a new, unbeatable
digital music experience that will give every consumer a way to get music
quickly and easily -- whether sitting in front of a computer screen or
on-the-go with a mobile device."
Real, MTV Networks and Verizon Wireless will leverage their
complementary strengths to bring the new service to market and back it up
with an aggressive advertising and promotional campaign. Verizon Wireless
will market Rhapsody through its extensive network of Verizon Wireless
Communications Stores nationwide when the service launches on mobile
phones. Rhapsody will become the music service of choice across MTV
Networks' MTV, VH1, and CMT brands and their myriad of online youth-culture
touch points. On-air integration for the new service will begin next week
and Rhapsody will also be integrated into the fabric of MTV's marquee
event, the Video Music Awards airing live from Las Vegas on September 9th.
Starting today, URGE customers can use their existing usernames and
passwords to log in to Rhapsody and enjoy access to both services. In
addition, Rhapsody customers can get their first taste of MTV Networks'
rich programming from MTV, VH1 and CMT. Verizon Wireless customers can
already download music instantly to their V CAST-enabled phones at any time
and from anywhere in the V CAST service area and transfer digital music to
their phones from their PC. In the months ahead, Verizon Wireless will roll
out functionality that sends the duplicate copy of songs purchased over the
air directly to a customer's Rhapsody account. The service will also allow
transfer of subscription music from a Rhapsody account to a mobile phone.
Rhapsody will also continue to be offered through RealNetworks'
extensive network of partners, including Best Buy, SanDisk and TiVo.
Today's news was announced this morning at a press teleconference by
executives from RealNetworks MTV Networks and Verizon. Replays of the
teleconference will be available at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT via a
toll-free call at 1-888-484-8256 and at 1-203-369-3737 for international
About MTV Networks
MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is one of the
world's leading creators of programming and content across all media
platforms. MTV Networks, with more than 137 channels worldwide, owns and
operates the following television programming services - MTV: MUSIC
TELEVISION, MTV2, VH1, mtvU, NICKELODEON, NICK at NITE, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV
LAND, SPIKE TV, CMT, NOGGIN, VH1 CLASSIC, LOGO, MTVN INTERNATIONAL and THE
DIGITAL SUITE FROM MTV NETWORKS, a package of 13 digital services, with all
of these networks trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks connects with
its audiences through its robust consumer products businesses and its more
than 260 interactive properties worldwide, including online, broadband,
wireless and interactive television services and also has licensing
agreements, joint ventures, and syndication deals whereby all of its
programming services can be seen worldwide.
RealNetworks, Inc. brings digital entertainment to consumers on every
screen. Real's heritage of delivering groundbreaking digital entertainment
products and services includes creation of the streaming media category
with the introduction of RealAudio in 1995. Since then, Real has continued
to be a leading force in the market, pioneering products and services that
include: RealPlayer, the first mainstream media player that lets consumers
download and record Internet video; the acclaimed Rhapsody digital music
service, which serves up more than 1 billion songs per year; RealArcade,
one of the largest casual games destinations online; and a variety of
mobile entertainment services, such as ringback tones, offered to consumers
through leading mobile operators around the world. RealNetworks' corporate
information is located at http://www.realnetworks.com/company.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and
data network, serving more than 62.1 million customers. The largest U.S.
wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues,
Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 67,000
employees nationwide. The company is a joint venture of Verizon
Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more
information on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and
request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of
Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia
Library at http://www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.
Forward Looking Statements:
This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve
risks and uncertainties, including statements relating to: the creation and
future growth of a compelling digital music service by Rhapsody America;
customer acceptance and adoption of the Rhapsody America service; the
impact of MTV Networks' marketing support on the Rhapsody America service;
and the launch and integration of the Rhapsody America service with
Verizon's music service. Actual results may differ materially from the
results predicted. Factors that could cause actual results to differ from
the results predicted include: development and consumer acceptance of
digital music services generally, including the adoption of mobile phones
as a music platform, and Rhapsody America's service in particular because
these are relatively new and unproven business models and markets; the
emergence of new entrants and competition in the market for digital music
services; risks inherent in strategic relationships, especially with
competitors, including the formation of Rhapsody America and the related
transaction and commercial agreements with MTV Networks, and technology and
service integration efforts, as well as risks specifically associated with
the combination of Real's Rhapsody service and MTV Network's URGE service;
and risks relating to the ability of Real's strategic partners, including
MTV Networks, to generate subscribers for Real's digital content services.
More information about potential risk factors that could affect
RealNetworks' business and financial results is included in RealNetworks'
annual report on Form 10-K for the most recent year ended December 31, and
its quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and from time to time in other reports
filed by RealNetworks with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The
Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements or
information, which are in effect as of their respective dates.
SOURCE RealNetworks, Inc.