MTVi Deal Extends Excite's Broadband Reach

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Last week's announcement that Excite@Home is partnering with MTVi on a three year marketing and programming agreement indicates that Excite believes its strongest entry point into broadband and interactive television is through the 12- to 34-year-old demographic.


The agreement also creates the potential for future deals with Viacom, which owns MTVi and other media companies including Paramount, Nickelodeon, Simon & Schuster, Blockbuster and the UPN.


Excite will develop Internet and on-air programming with MTVi, the Internet branch of the music television station. The companies initially will concentrate on expanding and marketing Music.Excite.com, Excite's youth targeted music site.


New broadband services on Music.Excite.com featuring streaming video and audio content and advertising will be available by this summer. MTV and MTV2 will market Music.Excite.com through on-air promotions and original programming that drives viewers to the site.


The companies also will take a stab at the 25- to 44-year-old market with cross-promotions on VH1. MTVi will sell ad space on the broadband and narrowband applications of Music.Excite.com. It is not certain if the agreement includes collaboration between MTVi and Enliven, Excite's rich/streaming media advertising unit, Enliven.


This deal provides Excite with a possible content partner for its @HomeTV interactive television service, scheduled to launch this summer. MTVi has taken an equal role in programming for the channel and the Internet. This initiative has led MTV to develop interactive programming like the game show WebRiot and to drive viewers to the Internet everyday to participate in its most popular show, Total Request Live.


When Excite2000 was announced, the company promised major content deals for the service, which arrived in homes through cable companies including Cox, Comcast and AT&T this month. These deals were to develop content with more motion, sound and interactivity targeted at the 12- to 34-year-olds, which it considers the next generation of broadband savvy users. This agreement helps to fulfill that promise and will help jump-start Excite@Home in its battle with America Online, its major competitor in broadband and interactive television.


According to a recent survey by the Yankee Group, Boston, the number of broadband subscribers is approaching 2.5 million U.S. households with about 41 percent of all households having access to a cable modem service by the end of this year and some 24 percent having access to DSL.


Meanwhile, Excite's search engine referrals, which first got the company on the map, have dropped considerably from 26.51 percent of the market on January 12, 1999 to 6.69 percent as of April 3, 2000, making the broadband initiative all the more important to the company.
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