RealTime IT News

RealNetworks Finds Sizable Customer for iQ Overseas

While RealNetworks Inc. CEO Rob Glaser has been out and about hawking the MusicNet online subscription service, his company has been quietly doing business overseas, which is perhaps why this is the first the U.S. has heard of RealNetworks' agreement with BBC Technology.

The media delivery giant, which at least one magazine (Red Herring) has tagged as possible acquisition fodder for the likes of giants AOL Time Warner or Microsoft Corp., said Thursday that it has licensed its RealSystem iQ media delivery platform to BBC Technology, which is responsible for supplying the backbone for the BBC Web site, among other things.

For RealNetworks, the deal firms up its media delivery presence overseas, as BBC Technology deployment of RealSystem iQ will enable BBC to scale delivery to large audiences for live or on-demand digital media content. As of Thursday, BBC Technology broadcasts over 30 live media programs and more than 100,000 on-demand clips for the BBC using RealNetworks technology.

RealSystem iQ is an OS-independent architecture designed to increase the scalability of Internet broadcasts. It differs from other media delivery systems because while other technologies rely on origin servers to distribute media streams hierarchically to edge servers and then to consumers, they are open to multiple points of failure and often result in investments to lessen network congestion. BBC Technology hopes to steer clear of that to provide clients, content producers, and rights holders with reliable Internet hosting, streaming and integration services.

While BBC Technology has employed RealSystem for the last five years for its own use, it is the first time European content producers and rights holders can turn to a BBC Technology to host their content. In a public statement, RealNetworks' Glaser said the broadcasts could reach as many as 40 million RealPlayer (the company's flagship media player) users in Europe.

As for RealNetworks current media player power rankings, the latest Jupiter Media Metrix (JMM) data released Thursday shows that RealPlayer is still the top-drawing media software application from which users can do such thnigs as view broadcasts or game highlights.

JMM said that in June, RealPlayer was used by an estimated 32.7 million U.S. Internet home users, a one-month increase of 3.2 million. In contrast, Microsoft's Windows Media Player had 22.1 million home users in the same month.

The Media Metrix estimates include the millions of AOL users (versions 6.0 and AOL Plus) who are using RealPlayer as their default, embedded media player as the result of an agreement reached last year between AOL and RealNetworks.