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BMG, Liberty, Motorola Back Streamers

11/26/2000 7:00 PM Eastern

Some big names-BMG Entertainment, Liberty Media Group and Motorola Inc.-are giving the video-streaming category a boost.

BMG announced it would work with Akamai Technologies Inc. and Virage Inc. to deliver 1,000 music videos to Internet users by year's end, while Liberty and Motorola anted up $15 million to fund Aerocast, a new video-streaming company.

The music distributor is moving quickly to embrace broadband, having made peace several weeks ago with Napster Inc., the music-downloading service.

In BMG's latest deal, the company said it will use Akamai's FreeFlow Streaming service to deliver its library of 1,000 music videos to a worldwide audience. Prominent BMG artists include Santana, Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera. Content would be streamed to thousands of Akamai's global servers.

"We're trying to drive the market for broadband and now's the time to do it," said BMG Entertainment vice president of new media Karl Slatoff. "We have to get our content ready to serve the broadband environment."

Slatoff said BMG would work with major entertainment sites, smaller music sites and general Web and broadband portals, including Excite@Home Corp. and Road Runner, to reach distribution deals for BMG's content. But "where the content resides can be a sticky issue" with the broadband portals, he said.

The content will be streamed in real time based on user requests. "It's not a download service," he said.

Virage will provide content management services for BMG, including the bit-rate encoding, at 56 kpbs, 100 kpbs and 300 kpbs, Slatoff said. The content will be formatted for Real Networks Inc.'s "RealPlayer" and Microsoft Corp.'s "Windows Media Player."

Virage also has advertising software skills that will "enable Web sites to monetize the videos as best they can," Slatoff said.

Encoding the music-video library is BMG's first step toward preparing its content for broadband. "We're starting with short-form videos," Slatoff said. "It's what people really want."

Separately, BMG envisions a paid music download service with Napster. And as broadband proliferates, the label could add a video element to its audio downloads.

Details on Aerocast were sketchy, but more are expected at the Streaming Media West conference in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 12.

Big names are behind Aerocast. Co-founder and chief technical officer Nathan Raciborski co-founded Axient, an Internet-content backbone company. Thomas Lynch, the acting CEO, was corporate vice president and general manager for Motorola's satellite and network-business system.

Aerocast's board of directors include Ed Breen, executive vice president and president of Motorola's Broadband Communications Sector; Chris Sophinos, senior vice president of Liberty Satellite & Technology Inc.; John Orr, director of corporate development for Liberty Media; Robert Scott, corporate vice president and legal director of Motorola's Broadband Communications Sector, and Lynch.

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