RealNetworks, Microsoft Swamp The Competition: Each Other

RealNetworks, Inc. Thursday unveiled data demonstrating a clear consumer preference for RealNetworks’ streaming media format. And so did Microsoft, showing a clear consumer preference for its streaming format.

Says Real: Among home Internet users who access streaming media content at least once a week on average, RealNetworks’ format is over six times more popular than its nearest competitor, according to a Nielsen//NetRatings October report.

Says Microsoft: the Microsoft Windows Media Format has gained significant momentum during the past five months, according to data from — you guessed it — Nielsen//NetRatings’ November study of streaming Web users in the home.

“There are a number of methods for measuring performance in the streaming media space. One is overall growth. Another is frequency of use. RealNetworks continues to be a leader in both of these categories,” said T.S. Kelly, director for Internet Media Strategies at Nielsen//NetRatings.

But maybe not, backpedals Kelly. “Our latest research since July 2000 shows that the number of audio and video users streaming in the Windows Media Format grew by 3.7 times more than its next largest competitor.”

RealNetworks Tuesday also announced that a separate Nielsen//NetRatings report reveals the overall number of home users of RealNetworks’ format grew by more than 8 million from January to November 2000, to a record total of 27.7 million. The number of home users for Microsoft’s Windows Media, by comparison, reached only 13.2 million during that same period.

“The numbers, like our leadership position, could not be clearer,” said Richard Cohen, senior vice president, Consumer Division, RealNetworks, Inc. “Month after month, users have chosen RealNetworks over our competitors by a greater than two-to-one margin. Even more encouraging is the finding that the more often people use streaming media, the more they prefer the Real format.”

Microsoft’s not buying that, either. “Last week consumers told us they preferred Windows Media Player 7 over the competition,” said Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “Today the results from Nielsen//NetRatings confirm that more new users are streaming the Windows Media Format and that it is the fastest-growing format on the Internet.”

So who’s really winning this race? So far, it looks like the Nielsen//NetRatings.

*John Townley is a Streaming Media Correspondent for, a property of

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