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AOL gets further into bed with RealNetworks

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AOL has signed a deal with RealNetworks to install its Internet media software throughout its network.

The US ISP will use the RealSystem 8 software to pump out interactive and broadband entertainment to its 23 million customers.

As part of the deal, AOL will get to include a new piece of RealNetworks software - used for playing different kinds of multimedia information - on its AOL 6.0 media player, which is due for release later this year. This will use Seattle-based RealNetworks' streaming technology.

RealNetworks RealPlayer device will also be available through AOL's Netscape browser and via its NetCenter site. This product allows users to display video and hear audio.

Details of how much AOL is paying for the RealNetworks software were not disclosed. But the deal is believed to be worth between $20 million and $29 million to RealNetworks, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"This is an unprecedented deployment," said Barry Schuler, president of AOL interactive services. "What you are really seeing here is the beginning of streaming media starting to come into the mainstream of consumer applications."

AOL already distributes RealNetworks' player software with the software the ISP offers to its users. Today's deal will update the technology, and promises to make the experience of playing audio and video more "seamless", according to AOL. ®

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