REDMOND, Wash., and NEWTON, Mass., Dec. 7, 1998 — Today Microsoft Corp. and ThingWorld.com, formerly Parable, announced a powerful branding solution for Internet content providers using Microsoft® Windows® Media Technologies and ThingWorld.com’s Things. This new solution, called Streaming Media Things
, adds streaming audio and video to Things – dynamic, self-contained multimedia experiences that can be animated scenes and characters, puzzles, games, Digital Collectibles, point-of-purchase and associates program buttons, digital kiosks and more. For the first time, entertainment, sports and consumer brand companies are able to secure and extend their brand and capitalize on their audio and video assets over the Internet.
Streaming Media Things provide customers with an innovative streaming media solution for commerce, access control and branding. Some of the nation’s most recognized professional sports and entertainment firms, including The Jim Henson Co., Comedy Central, Major League Soccer, the New England Patriots and World Wrestling Federation (WWF), plan to feature Streaming Media Things using the Windows Media Technologies on their sites.
“Internet content providers want to distribute high-quality branded content but also need to keep track of their content, know where it gets used, and in some cases limit use to specific Web sites,”
said Will Poole, senior director, business development and strategy at Microsoft.
“Streaming Media Things use Windows Media Technologies to provide an exciting new way for streaming media to be delivered on the Web, offering an enhanced experience for consumers and an expanded business model for content providers.”
With Things, consumers are finding interaction with their favorite brands to be one of the most compelling reasons to get on the Web. With the introduction of Streaming Media Things, interactive animations can be combined with synchronized streaming audio and video, providing the Web’s richest branded multimedia offering. Entertainment, music, sports and consumer brand organizations can now protect and strategically distribute their brand properties to fans and audiences on the Internet, as well as provide an entertaining experience around their commerce and membership offerings.
“Our customers are already using Streaming Media Things to build stronger relationships with users, allowing them to uncover hidden interactive surprises wrapped in their favorite brand,”
said Steve Barlow, co-founder and CTO, ThingWorld.com.
“A streaming video clip that entertains and provides engaging commerce offers while displaying brand messages is exciting for our content partners.”
About Streaming Media Things
ThingWorld.com has integrated its lightweight ThingViewer
with the Microsoft Windows Media Player, enabling Things to support streaming audio and video while retaining their interactive, brand-building functionality, including the ability to lock, copyright, collect, and control access. This results in engaging, immersive experiences, including commerce, membership, and entertaining, jack-in-the-box-like surprises.
Streaming Media Things represent a breakthrough in audio and video streaming on the Web by providing a way to accelerate the growth of streaming media through ThingWorld.com’s franchised distribution network. Streaming Media Things distributed through the network gain immediate exposure to millions of page views per day at some of the most highly trafficked portals and communities on the Web, including GeoCities, Lycos, theglobe.com, Tripod and XOOM.com. In addition, at the option of the content owner, Streaming Media Things can support authorized and tamper-resistant downloading and republishing to interactive screen savers and personal and fan club Web sites. These capabilities are an example of the many applications of Streaming Media Things that extend business and consumer use of streaming content on the Web.
“The WWF continually faces one major concern regarding the Internet: protecting its trademarks while creating value for its online investments,”
said Robert Mitchell, senior vice president of new media for the World Wrestling Federation.
“We have millions of dollars of intellectual property that is extraordinarily valuable in the real world but, until now, virtually untapped online. We are using Things and Streaming Media Things to deploy our intellectual property safely on the Web and to drive traffic and revenue opportunities, including membership and pay-per-view.”
Benefits of Streaming Media Things
Streaming Media Things offer the following benefits for Internet content providers and their end users:
Novel presentation and engaging experiences through lightweight, short-duration streaming content. Streaming Media Things provide engaging, interactive experiences using streaming audio and video content that is optimal for today’s limited Web infrastructure. For example, animation on a Web site can be enhanced with an audio or video clip that begins to play instantly, without a lengthy download process.
Control over branded context. Content companies can create and control the branding of the context as well as the streaming experience by wrapping the stream into a tamper-resistant Thing user interface. In this way, the stream can only be viewed when distributed in the intended context, complete with advertisement and sponsor information. For example, a WWF animated logo is solely prominent when playing a streaming experience, with no interruption from intruding brands.
Point-of-sale and membership vehicles. Streaming Media Things make compelling interactive point-of-sale vehicles for electronic commerce offers of both tangible and downloadable purchases. In addition, Streaming Media Things serve as recruitment vehicles and membership privileges for online clubs. For example, members of a fan club can be provided with a special offer to purchase merchandise or a unique Streaming Media Thing that is only available to club members.
Access control. For the first time, content companies concerned about piracy or unauthorized viewing of streams can control access to content by locking and hiding the stream’s source URL into the tamper-resistant file format of a Thing. For example, content providers can create and freely distribute pay-per-view Things that include secure access to both a free preview and a multimedia offer to purchase an entire video.
About Microsoft Windows Media Technologies
Microsoft Windows Media Technologies, including Windows Media Player,
Windows NT® Server NetShow
Services and NetShow Theater Server, provide corporate, education and Internet customers with a platform for developing richer business and entertainment solutions using streaming media. More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/ . Windows Media Player is available for free download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/mediaplayer/download/ (connect-time charges may apply).
Availability of Streaming Media Things
Streaming Media Things will be demonstrated to the public for the first time today at the CNET Builder.com Live! show in New Orleans and the Giga Emerging Technology Scene in La Quinta, Calif. A preview release of this content is available starting today at MSN
Web Events ( http://webevents.MSN.com/ ), Microsoft’s streaming media portal site, and at ThingWorld ( http://www.thingworld.com/ ), Thingworld.com’s multimedia showcase and franchised distribution hub.
The solutions are viewed through the client run time, ThingViewer 1.2, which is currently in beta and can be downloaded from http://www.thingworld.com/thingviewerbeta/ . Full release of ThingViewer 1.2 is scheduled for the first quarter of 1999 and will be available at a number of locations on the Web, including ThingWorld.com and portals and communities franchising the ThingWorld.com content database.
Founded in August 1996, ThingWorld.com, formerly Parable, provides technologies, tools, services and a distribution network headquartered at http://www.thingworld.com/ for managing the creation and distribution of compelling digital multimedia content (Things) both online and on the desktop.
ThingWorld.com offers a growing set of multimedia content and distribution options, ranging from limited-edition Digital Collectibles TM and broadly distributed branded content to promotions and brand extension campaigns. Within this range, a growing lineup of entertainment, music, sports and consumer brand companies are serving up their content broadly, selectively or exclusively to specified Web sites, including some of the most highly trafficked portals and communities on the Web. The unique locking and copyright features of Things provide these companies with solutions for securely distributing and extending their intellectual property. Headquartered in Newton, Mass., Thingworld.com is part of the CMG@Ventures portfolio of companies. In addition to CMG, other current investors include BankBoston, The Kraft Group, Venture Management, and Wasserstein Adelson Ventures.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT, NetShow and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
ThingWorld, ThingViewer , Streaming Media Things and Digital Collectibles are all registered trademarks of Thingworld.com.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.
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