October 14, 1998 2:40 PM PDT

New content partners at Netcenter

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Netscape Communications tomorrow will disclose partnerships with several content providers for its Netcenter portal site, a day after announcing enhancements to its international sites.

The partners include the Rolling Stone Network, Entertainment Tonight, the Children's Television Workshop, Headbone Interactive, MaMaMedia, and Yucky.com, according to sources familiar with the deals. The partners will help fill out Netscape's "Entertainment" and "Kids and Family" channels.

Netscape declined to comment on the deals, as did some content partners. The Rolling Stone Network and the Children's Television Network confirmed their Netcenter deals, but declined to comment further on them.

After watching its dominance in the browser market collapse in the face of a concerted challenge from Microsoft, Netscape this year decided to enter the portal business that has made competitor Yahoo one of the most successful sites on the Web. Netscape has been making up for its late entry into the market by devoting its front door to Netcenter, integrating it with the Navigator browser (which still enjoys a plurality market share), and forming content and technology partnerships with dozens of firms, including CNET: The Computer Network.

But analysts give the company mixed marks for its portal push, particularly in the consumer market at which tomorrow's content deals are aimed. For example, some note that Netcenter's user base is weighted heavily toward people who use the site from work, which will complicate any consumer focus.

More than a quarter of Netscape's revenues come from Netcenter through licensing deals and advertising revenues. The company is expected to rely even more heavily on the portal in the future. Tomorrow's announcement follows statements today concerning Netcenter's efforts to reach international users. Netscape is adding local content, Netscape-branded search powered by Excite, and locally provided search and directory information to versions of Netcenter for Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Netcenter also is working with Lycos-Bertelsmann to offer local content channels.

Other countries, regions, and cities with Netcenter sites include Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Korea, Latin America, and Taiwan.

"We're enhancing international sites with new content and services to make them into portals," said Steven Reade, a managing director with Netcenter. "We have had sites internationally, but thus far we haven't had the portal services that we've had in the U.S. since launching Netcenter 2.0 at the end of June."

Other services headed for the international sites include Web-based email and personalization.


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