Playboy TV Lands at RealNetworks

After hinting for months it would consider selling adult content,
RealNetworks on Thursday announced a deal to market
streaming programming from Playboy.com, but company officials emphasized
Playboy was not a part of its flagship RealOne SuperPass service.

The Seattle-based digital media firm
officially launched the RealOne
OpenPass
marketplace that includes backend technology that powers the
sale of third-party streaming content.

OpenPass, which is tightly integrated with the RealOne media player,
promises to expand the reach and reduce the costs of content producers
looking to market streaming programming via the Internet.

In its announcement, RealNetworks said New York-based men’s lifestyle
portal Playboy.com had signed up to use the technology for the Playboy TV
Club service that offers racy digital programming with an interactive
edge.

Real’s vice president of marketing Dan Sheeran told
internetnews.com the Playboy TV Club offering would be marketed to
the one million subscribers who shell out $9.95 per month but he made it
clear this was a third party service.

“It is very important that we be clear that this is Playboy leveraging
the RealOne marketplace. This is not about adult programming as part of our
RealOne SuperPass bundle,” Sheeran said. “It is not a part of the
SuperPass service. Even if the SuperPass users subscribe to Playboy, they
have to pay separately and there are very strict parental controls
integrated.”

He said the parental controls were tightly wrapped to the subscribers’
credit cards to block underage PC users from changing the settings. “Even
to change the parental controls settings, we do credit card verifications.
We gave this a lot of thought because we wanted to do it in a responsible
way,” Sheeran said.

The OpenPass marketplace which is being sold to third-party producers
includes the backend technology, which is tied to Real’s digital media
platform. It includes features like digital rights management (DRM)
authentication and customer service for subscribers.

For content delivery, the marketplace provides customer registration and
management, payment processing, billing systems, and content security.
Providers have the option of hosting their content at RealNetworks’ Real
Broadcast Network (RBN) or at a certified third party hosting service,
Sheehan said.

It also features online reporting and end-user customer support, all
aimed at reducing maintenance costs for content providers.

RealNetworks makes money by collecting a share of revenues sold on the
marketplace. “They set a wholesale price and we set a retail price,”
Sheehan explained.

In addition to Playboy.com, the company has also signed up more than 20
brands to use the marketplace. These include Motor Trend, Sporting News
Radio and the Professional Bowlers Association.

The RealOne OpenPass service was launched as a pilot program last
summer.

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