"We looked at a lot of
options and concluded that Snap's commitment to rich media
makes it the best choice for us as a portal on our
player," RN director for media distribution Virl Hill
From now on, all users with
the updated version of RN's G2 audio/video-streaming client
software will be linked to Snap's Web site when they click
on the search button at the G2 interface.
With 32 million users
currently equipped with the G2 player and another 160,000
downloading it every day by RN's count, Snap's position as
the search engine for streamed media that can be accessed
via the G2 software gives it much greater exposure in the
hotly contested portal arena.
The move comes as NBC --
which shares ownership in Snap with CNET
-- is consolidating its Internet assets into a publicly
traded company, NBC Internet (NBCi), which officials said
will be the seventh-largest Internet site. NBCi will be the
first publicly traded Internet company controlled by a major
Snap.com -- the umbrella
brand to be used for such NBCi properties as
electronic-commerce and broadcast-network sites -- now
becomes the exclusive branded Internet-search feature on the
English-language version of the G2 player.
The Snap media-search
capabilities will also be featured exclusively on all RN Web
sites, including the "RealGuide" lineup of
entities with content aggregated for streaming directly from
RN's server, as well as sites devoted to music and film
categories of streamed media.
RealGuide offers programming
from more than 4,700 Web sites, including more than 1,700
radio and television stations that are now broadcasting on
the Internet. Some of this content will also be added
directly to Snap's sites.
In late March, Snap became
the first noncable portal to set up a site devoted to
steering people with high-speed access to media that has
been enhanced to stream above dial-up rates.
High-speed-access users entering the media search from the
G2 player will be able to gain access to the Snap
"broadband" portal, Hill noted.
While the growing base of
cable-modem users was a factor in Snap's decision to open a
broadband-enhanced content-search site, officials said its
timing was largely driven by the growing base of DSL
(digital subscriber line) facilities across the country.
Snap has aggressively focused
on building ties with DSL-service providers, and it is now
the supplier of customized user interfaces to Bell Atlantic
Corp.'s Bell Atlantic Internet Solutions, SBC Communications
Inc.'s SBC Internet Services, GTE Corp.'s GTE
Internetworking and others from the carrier side, as well as
a wide range of regional and national Internet-service
"One in five searches on
the Web relates to something involving rich media, which is
largely driven by the high-speed connectivity people have at
their offices," Snap chief operating officer Edmond
Sanctis said at a recent Kagan Seminars Inc. conference in
By 2002, he predicted, 23
percent of the Internet user base will have access over
high-speed cable, DSL and wireless links.
"We're now the
fastest-growing portal on the Internet," Sanctis said.
According to Internet-metering firm Media
Metrix Inc., Snap.com is registering close to
10 million users per month, while its new e-commerce
affiliate under the NBCi umbrella, XOOM.com,
is running at about the same rate.
Hill said the strategic
alliance with Snap -- which officials characterized as one
of RN's largest financial transactions -- would not deter
its pursuit of strategic relationships with Snap
competitors, including @Home Network.
"We have a strong
relationship with @Home, and there's a lot we want to do
with Excite [Inc.], as well," Hill said. @Home is in
the process of merging with portal Excite.
While @Home serves the cable
market, Excite serves all interests, including DSL users.
RN is supplying streaming
technology for the new broadband-streaming network being
implemented by @Home, but no deals with Excite have been