January 31, 2000 5:20 PM PST

Launch Media makes first foray into retail

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Launch Media, which streams music videos, is getting into the e-commerce game today through a deal with CheckOut.com and its new Wherehouse Online Stores.

Under the agreement, Launch.com will sell CDs, cassettes, videos and games through the Wherehouse. CheckOut also announced that next month it will unveil Wherehouse Online Stores, competing with Amazon.com, TowerRecords.com, Borders.com and others to sell music, movies and other merchandise.

An e-commerce and entertainment site, CheckOut was formed last May by Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz and Richard Wolpert, a former president of Disney Online. In November, the company struck a $40 million deal to become the exclusive Internet partner for Wherehouse Music, gaining a brick-and-mortar presence in the retail giant's 600 stores across the nation.

This is Launch's first foray into retailing. The company's videos, Net radio features and reviews have generally aligned it to compete with entertainment sites, such as Viacom's MTV.com.

But MTV Interactive itself is getting ready to unveil more commerce initiatives through a deal with RioPort.com that will allow its users to buy music they hear across its network of sites, including SonicNet.com and VH1.com.

"We are pleased to be partnering with CheckOutMusic.com and the Wherehouse Online Stores; this partnership will further serve to promote Launch.com as a leading music destination," Dave Goldberg, Launch's CEO, said in a statement.

Media companies, You've got Time Warner retailers and music labels are aggressively forging deals to garner sales and traffic from one of the Net's fastest-growing sectors. But just one month into the new year, the stakes are getting deeper than cross-marketing deals.

Already, show-stopping mergers have come down, with America Online announcing plans to acquire Time Warner and Britain's EMI and Time Warner saying they will combine their music empires to create a $20 billion company.

 

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