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RealTime IT News

Fox, Real to Launch Pay-Per-View Football Webcast

RealNetworks Friday breathed a sigh of relief with the news that a baseball strike had been averted and immediately turned its attention to hardcore college football fans, announcing a pay-per-view deal with FOXSports.com to webcast live 'Big 12' games.

A baseball strike was certain to put a dent into Real's sports content on the RealOne subscription service, but with news that an agreement has been reached between MLB and the players' union, the company was all-smiles Friday with the exclusive deal to sell live Web streams of Big 12 games.

The entire Big 12 Complete Package is being sold for $9.95 per month but RealOne said it would sweeten the pot by offering Big 12 fans who want to see all the games at a price of $24.85 for three months, a $5.00 savings off the regular monthly price.

College football fans can purchase the webcast through either a standalone purchase of the game from FOXSports.com or as part of the FOXSports.com content within RealNetworks' RealOne SuperPass, the companies said. The football streams would be offered a la carte for $9.95 per game.

RealOne SuperPass is the streaming service that sells access to programming from sites like NASCAR.com, MLB.com, CNN, Wall Street Journal, E! Networks, and ABCNEWS.com.

The two companies also set up a separate service that targets fans of the popular Nebraska Cornhuskers team. Fans interested in Nebraska-only games can pay $9.95 per month at Huskers.com, which also provides access to streams of postgame press conference, live and on-demand Husker sporting events, archived highlights and player features.

The move to push live Web streams of pro and college sports to the consumer market is the latest strategy to prop up the struggling streaming media sector, which has suffered through the ad market recession.

Last week, Major League Baseball gave a hint of the future of baseball broadcasts online with a free offering of a live game between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers on its MLB.com portal. Pro basketball games have already been streamed live from NBA.com and live cricket games involving international teams are a staple on the Internet.

RealNetworks, which recently turned to former MSNBC.com editor Merrill Brown to run its RealOne subscription service, is banking heavily on exclusive content to swing its operations into the black.

The Seattle-based company's RealOne SuperPass service boasts more than 750,000 paid subscribers. The service is tied into the company's flagship RealOne Player Plus media player, which was recently tweaked to allow users to play back every major media format in only one player.