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NTL signs up Napster

Punters to pay extra for music downloads

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Napster UK has today signed a partnership with cable TV and broadband connectivity supplier NTL, as anticipated.

The deal will see NTL bundle a Napster monthly subscription with its Broadband Plus package. The Napster subscription doesn't come free, however. With it, Broadband Plus subscribers pay £9.95 a month; without Napster content, the NTL offering costs £3.99 a month.

Broadband Plus is offered to NTL's 600Kbps and 1Mbps access packages and delivers branded-content from the likes of MTV, old World Cup highlights, old Tweenies episodes, Encyclopedia Britannica entries and David Frosts eponymous interview channel.

Ironically, that £4 fee already includes access to music downloads courtesy of UK digital music provider On Demand Distribution (OD2), an NTL spokesman told The Register.

The service is branded as SonicSelector.

That begs the question: why pay the best part of six pounds for access to Napster's downloads too? Well, Napster's offering 700,000 songs or more, SonicSelector allows users to choose from a list of 170,000.

NTL's most recently issued figures for its Broadband Plus subscriber base was 50,000-odd in March 2004 out of 1.03m broadband customers.

The tie-in was expected to have been made public on 20 May, the day of Napster's UK launch. News of the deal was revealed by a a well-placed UK broadband industry source.

Early in May, Napster announced a similar marketing deal with UK high street consumer electronics retailer Dixons.

NTL's Broadband Plus service, like Napster's, is Windows-only. Apple is expected to launch its iTunes Music Store in Europe tomorrow. ®

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