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Excite@Home Partners to Bring Software on Demand Services to Users

Streaming software providers, Into Networks (www.intonetworks.com) and Media Station ( www.mediastation.com), have entered the big time with a recent agreement with Excite@Home. Into Networks and Media Station are the leading providers of software on-demand -- sending compressed packets of CD-ROM software over IP that allows the program to run without being installed on the user's computer. The services are available on a subscription and premium pay-per-play basis through partnered broadband carriers. Excite@Home has partnered with Into Networks and Media Station, to provide their PlayNow and SelectPlay services, respectively, to the @Home U.S. subscriber base. The deals with Excite@Home mark the largest carrier to come on board for both companies.

Into Networks and Media Station have partnered with major software distributors giving them access to a range of educational, entertainment and business software. According to Larry Berkin, director of business development for premium services at Excite@Home, the inclusion of software on-demand will greatly enrich the content available to Excite@Home subscribers. Due to the stickiness factor of games specifically, Berkin expressed the hope for greater subscriber retention and cited these services as an attractive option to spur broadband adoption.

The services are being pushed by Excite@Home through both on and offline marketing campaigns, and will appear as links in various content channels available to @Home subscribers. The links lead to the respective companies' Web pages, and all services and transactions are handled directly by Into Networks and Media Station. However, as part of the agreement, both companies have servers dedicated solely to @Home users. The servers have been linked by OC3 fiber directly to the @Home backbone.

Berkin stated that Exicte@Home wanted to provide its subscribers with choice, regarding the decision to partner with the two leading providers, citing a variation in the technologies the two companies offer. When asked what differentiated the company from its competition, a Media Station spokesperson responded that it offers both a streaming service and digital delivery -- downloadable software that would be installed on the users computer.

Bill Holding, vice president of marketing at Into Networks, stated that its technology did not require the user to install the software, avoiding any complications that can arise from that process. Holding also indicated that Into Networks was less interested in becoming a destination site, but rather was focused on licensing its technology to other sites, including software distributors own sites.

Under the agreement with Excite@Home, both companies are offering a one-month free trial for registered users. The pricing for the service varies. For Media Station's SelectPlay offering, an all-category unlimited-play monthly subscription fee is $9.95 while the rental fee (available only to monthly subscribers) for a 48-hour period for new-release titles is $3.95. Into Networks' PlayNow offers two monthly subscription options -- $5.99 for each channel or $9.99 for all channels -- as well as a per-title rental fee, for a 48-hour period, of $2.99. Rental and subscription fees will be charged directly to a subscriber's credit card through transaction systems managed by Media Station and Into Networks.

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