MTV Networks, RealNetworks and Verizon Wireless Join Forces To Offer A New Integrated Digital Music Experience

    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.
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     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
 consumer devices.
     "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
 lovers."
     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.
     Customer Experience
     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.
     Press Teleconferences
     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
 callers.
     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.
     About RealNetworks
     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.

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