Broadband provider Comcast has extended its Rhapsody online music service deal with RealNetworks and plans to begin offering its broadband users access RealNetworks' Internet radio service, Rhapsody RadioPlus, by the end of June, the companies announced Wednesday.
Comcast, one of the largest US cable Internet service providers (ISPs), will provide a free Rhapsody Internet radio service to its subscribers in the hopes that customers upgrade to the subscription-based Internet radio service. The Rhapsody Internet radio service offers 90 professionally programmed Internet radio stations and over 30,000 artist-based radio stations. For a fee, customers can also create customized radio stations that play full songs, a service that RealNetworks usually bills at US$5 a month. The full Rhapsody RadioPlus product, which is about $10 per month, allows users to search for and listen to specific songs.
Comcast has been offering the Rhapsody jukebox service to its 6.5 million high-speed Internet customers since November 2003. The company currently offers a 14-day free trial of the service featuring over 60,000 albums and over 760,000 songs. Subscribers pay a monthly fee for unlimited streaming music and an additional fee to record tracks to a CD.
For its part, RealNetworks is seeking to build its base as a market leader in subscription-based music services, as it attempts to compete against other online music service providers such as Apple's iTunes Music Store and Napster, which both let users buy individual music tracks for download for a set fee.
RealNetworks said that it had over 625,000 paying subscribers as of the end of September.
Representatives from RealNetworks and Comcast could not immediately be reached for comment.