AOL's Real deal offers streamed marketing services

America Online Inc. (AOL) said Thursday that it had expanded a business agreement with RealNetworks Inc., allowing it to offer streamed, interactive marketing services using Real's Helix Universal Servers.

The deal comes as AOL looks to bolster its advertising revenues, amid an industrywide ad market slump. Under the agreement, AOL will use Real's recently unveiled Helix Universal Servers to stream high-quality audio and video to its more than 35 million subscribers.

The Internet maven said that it plans to stream marketing content from its parent company AOL Time Warner Inc. (AOLTW), as well as from its business partners. AOL, which has been singled out by investors as the revenue-lagging unit of AOLTW's sprawling media enterprise, has been looking for ways to shore up its ad business, and even if third-party partners don't immediately embrace the new streamed marketing services, AOLTW can use the deal to tout its own brands and businesses.

Real's Helix Universal Server, rolled out in July, supports every major digital media format, including RealAudio, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Apple Computer Inc.'s QuickTime and all versions of Windows Media. The deal with AOL allows the Seattle, Washington, media delivery company to show off its new technology to a large range of AOL partners.

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