September 21, 2000 3:41 PM PDT

Lycos TV to enter online broadcast lineup

Web portal Lycos tomorrow will announce the launch of a service that will deliver video programming over the Web.

The service, dubbed Lycos TV, will offer an array of interactive video programming powered by Vidnet, which aggregates music videos, movie trailers and sports highlights; each of these categories will contain separate channels varying by genre.

Lycos TV programs will include interactive features; for example, people will be able to participate in communities associated with video clips' content.

The release of Lycos TV puts another multimedia service under the company's belt. It already has launched a search engine specifically for audio files encoded in the popular MP3 format. In addition, Lycos in August acquired Mediascience, which created the Sonique music download player, for 1.1 million shares of its stock.

The company also has launched a music destination, Lycos Music, which combines digital downloads, CD sales and music-related content.

"Lycos TV represents a move from the stagnant Web broadcasting model to a more interactive, original programming model," Mark Stoever, vice president of "emerging destinations" for Lycos, said in a statement.

Lycos is not alone in trying to lure an audience with music and video clips.

Rival Yahoo last year unveiled its own destination for audio and video downloads and media streams. Yahoo Digital, as the site is called, stemmed in part from the Web portal's $5 billion acquisition of streaming media aggregator Broadcast.com.

Yahoo also recently launched FinanceVision, a video streaming product that broadcasts financial news programming, some of which is produced in-house.

In addition, Internet Swimming with sharksgiant America Online recently unveiled a broadband content offering called AOL Plus. The service allows AOL members using high-speed connections to view video and audio files when navigating the subscription service's content areas. Much of the content delivery comes through AOL's partnership with RealNetworks, another company that is heavily invested in becoming a streaming services provider and content destination.

Smaller companies, including Pseudo Programs and Digital Entertainment Network, also are trying to tie video streaming with interactive features. Both companies are targeting audiences based on more specific criteria, such as ethnicity or lifestyle.

For Lycos, creating a streaming media destination fills another hole in its broadband efforts. Despite indications from executives that Lycos is devoting fewer resources to broadband, the company seems unable to ignore the push in that direction by its competitors.

According to Jupiter Communications analyst Seamus McAteer, consumer use of broadband media applications still has ways to go. The challenge is to make the consumer viewing experience less like a TV show on a PC and to integrate more of the Net's interactive features with the video stream, he said.

Nevertheless, Net companies need to have a broadband strategy to remain appealing to consumers in the future.

"Broadband is a slow train coming, but it's starting to build up steam," McAteer said. "It's not surprising that Lycos is seeking to launch something that would give it a broadband (user interface)."

The launch comes as Lycos is rumored to be in acquisition talks with Spanish Internet group Terra Networks. The company might be acquired by Terra for $10 billion, according to Reuters.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 

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