Marvel Launches Super(hero) ISP

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MarvelOnline.net announced Tuesday hat it has unveiled a customizable Internet service featuring its 4,700 characters, including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.


As part of the service, which costs between $16.95 and $19.95 per month for unlimited access, users will receive e-mail, a special edition X-Men comic book, notice of special sweepstakes and events as well as a discount off Marvel Comics purchases at Midtowncomics.com.


This offering will likely attract the legions of rabid comic book aficionados, said David Bernstein, executive vice president at iConnect.com, New York, the backbone of the service. "This demographic is already overwhelmingly online. They are savvy about computer things. They are passionate and love Marvel stuff. Whether it's a PlayStation game or a T-shirt or the latest graphic novel -- if it has the Marvel brand on it, this audience wants to have it."


Marvel.com currently receives more than 1 million unique visitors per month.


The Internet service provider soft-launched in the beginning of November and has signed up only about 100 people. However, the branded e-mail addresses, such as johndoe@spiderman.com and johndoe@x-men.com, have been going fast. Approximately 30,000 people have signed up for these addresses.


For fans who do not want to leave their current providers, there's a "bring your own ISP" package for $4.95 per month. This membership will give them access to the comic book, special discounts and the other fringe benefits.


The ultimate goal of this endeavor is to build a community similar to that of America Online, Bernstein said. "AOL gives you more than ISP access. They have community and discounts. There are other reasons to be an AOL member."


Other benefits of the service are customization functionalities similar to that of MyYahoo, where people can select what kind of news and sports scores they would like to receive as well as which Marvel character to use for the backdrop to this information.


IConnect.com is the behind-the-scenes technology for the Catholic Families Network as well as for the Marvel offering. The company plans to roll out a handful of new branded ISPs each quarter.
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