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Excite@Home Strikes Rich-Media Deal With MSNBC.com

Broadband Internet service provider Excite@Home is bulking up its high-speed content fare with an agreement signed with MSNBC.com Monday.

Under terms of the agreement, MSNBC.com will provide hourly recaps of current news stories for @Home subscribers using streaming media video clips.

It's the latest move by Excite@Home majority owner AT&T Corp. to offset the multi-media behemoth that is now AOL Time Warner. Both companies are in a race to gain market dominance in high-speed cable Internet access.

AT&T has the largest cable network in the U.S. and has more than three million cable Internet customers through Excite@Home.

AOL Time Warner owns the second-largest piece of the cable pie and has more than one million Road Runner cable Internet customers.

A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals Friday allows AT&T to keep that network, too, which was in doubt. The ruling gives AT&T the clear advantage in terms of network coverage.

The merger of America Online Inc., and Time Warner Inc., created what officials hope is the best of the old media (broadcast news, movies, music) combined with the best of the new media (the Internet).

AOL Time Warner has a ready-made content platform with news organizations like CNN, which it will marry to its Internet platform, and gives it the advantage in the content arena.

Other Internet providers, including AT&T, have to do it the old-fashioned way, i.e., today's deal between Excite@Home and MSNBC.com.

Which will prove the leader in cable subscribers depends in large part on the moves they make in the coming months, as AT&T builds its content and AOL Time Warner kicks its cable Internet subscription drive into motion.

The deal struck Monday gives Excite@Home access to news by one of the country's highest-rated news sources, MSNBC, on a high-speed platform that takes advantage of the speed inherent in cable Internet access.

Peter Negulescu, Excite@Home vice president and general manager of content applications, said the Internet is evolving beyond static, Web-page driven news to something with a little more pizzazz.

"As broadband evolves and becomes mainstream, more and more consumers will turn to the Internet for 'snacks' of information - such as video news," Negulescu said. "...We believe it will be an important element of our service moving forward."

Excite@Home is now able to take advantage of MSNBC.com's streaming media snippets, which include clips from Dateline NBC, NBC Nightly News and the Today Show.

MSNBC.com also provides coverage for AOL Time Warner's Road Runner service.



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