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Retail Web Sites Add Streaming

The Web arms of real world retail giants, Walmart and BestBuy both announced streaming enhancements to their consumer Web sites this week. Walmart.com teamed up with RealNetworks to offer 30-second streaming audio clips of tracks from its CD merchandise, while Netradio announced an agreement to provide BestBuy.com with custom audio entertainment programming by early Spring 2001.

Walmart ( www.walmart.com), which previously offered no audio clips on its site, entered the streaming audio area in full force on Wednesday by offering music clips from every track of every CD it offers online. The tracks are only available in RealAudio format, and are currently being hosted by RealNetworks' Real Broadcast Network (RBN).

"At Walmart.com, our goal is to create a great customer experience on the Web by providing our customers with tools to help in their purchasing decisions,'' said Greg Penner, vice president of business development, in a statement.

While Walmart is hoping streaming audio will help in online CD sales, Bestbuy (www.bestbuy.com) is looking to take advantage of the marketing opportunities that online radio stations provide.

Under terms of the agreement, NetRadio will provide BestBuy with a co-branded player that will include 20 originally programmed NetRadio channels for use on its Web site. In addition, BestBuy will program, and NetRadio will host, two custom radio channels for which BestBuy will purchase and control all the advertising.

"The capability to program our own channels and advertising messages brings an important new marketing dimension to the Best Buy enterprise. Co-branded audio content from NetRadio.com, the leading Internet radio webcaster, will provide BestBuy.com an Internet radio service with instant credibility to the millions of Internet radio users,'' said Scott Young, VP/GM of Entertainment for BestBuy.com.

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