Sony Soaps Up Online Subscriptions


Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment has joined forces with Real Networks Inc. to offer audio feeds of past soap opera episodes via a monthly subscription.

Starting in May, both narrowband and broadband users can subscribe to hear the audio track from 1998 episodes of The Young and the Restless
and Days of Our Lives
for a price ranging from $2.99 to $7.99, said Mary Coller, vice president and general manager of SoapCity, Sony's soap-opera Web site.

While they listen, subscribers can view a screen capture of the scene taken from the program they're hearing, said Coller. Each day, a new episode will be made available for two weeks, she said.

"The archival material is where all the value is," she said.

Initially, Sony won't provide any video from the episodes. "We can reach the entire Internet audience" with the audio feed, she said.

Coller said Sony doesn't yet have the rights for same-day audio feeds of episodes currently airing on the networks. The appeal, she said, will be among fans who want to relive past moments, as well as new fans who can sample want happened years ago.

Subscribers also will be able to access character biographies, behind-the-scenes material and family-tree information.

Sony will use Real Networks's new Real Managed Subscription Service.

The RMSS is designed as a back-office, turnkey Internet platform for content providers that want to launch subscription services on the Web. The Campus Crusade for Christ and horse-racing company Post Time Technologies are using RMSS.

The RMSS includes customer registration and subscriber management functions, as well as content security systems, payment processing and billing, user report accounting, end-use customer service and hosting systems.

Real said sports entities and educational institutions are showing interest in RMSS.