MORRISTOWN, N.J., and REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 16, 1999 — Audio Book Club Inc. (AMEX
) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq
“MSFT” ) today announced that they have expanded their relationship and will convert 50,000 hours of Audio Book Club’s content, including its classic radio and audiobook titles, into the Microsoft® Windows Media TM Audio format for secure digital download and streaming. More than half of this content (approximately 30,000 hours) will become available for secure digital download and will constitute one of the largest collections of premium, secure downloadable programming available on the Web today. The move is a major milestone in the development of the electronic distribution of content.
Audio Book Club, through its network of Web sites including www.audiobookclub.com and www.mediabay.com, will begin offering its vast collection of premium spoken-word content in secure digital download format using the Digital Rights Management features of Microsoft Windows Media Technologies 4, in addition to the customary hard-goods formats. This alliance enables Audio Book Club to offer to its over 2 million customers and millions of Web site visitors a secure means of digitally downloading its vast collection of spoken-word content, including audiobooks, old-time radio shows, classic movies, music, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, celebrity and author interviews, and more.
Windows Media Technologies 4 will offer Audiobookclub.com and Mediabay.com customers and visitors the key features and functionality required for an optimal listening experience. Through this agreement, Audio Book Club’s broad collection will be available for seamless PC-based playback to the more than 40 million users of the Windows Media Player. In addition, the companies will collaborate to bring Audio Book Club’s spoken word content library to a variety of portable devices through the use of the Windows Media format.
Microsoft also announced today it will create three new categories of radio stations within the Internet Radio Guide of Microsoft’s WindowsMedia.com Web site ( http://windowsmedia.com/ ), the fastest-growing audio and video guide on the Web. MediaBay.com will be the first content provider to offer 24×7 Internet radio stations in each of the categories, which are Old-Time Radio, Classic Movies, and AudioBook Previews. Each station will offer free* streaming PC-based playback of content from Audio Book Club through the use of Microsoft Windows Media Technologies 4. The WindowsMedia.com Radio Station Guide is available in localized versions in 16 countries.
By accessing the Audio Book Club Old-Time Radio station, launching immediately, listeners can enjoy popular radio broadcasts from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. This station will feature content from Audio Book Club’s library of over 60,000 classic radio titles controlled by its Radio Spirits subsidiary. Located at http://www.mediabay.com/stations/otr.asp , this station will include full-length episodes of Radio Spirits’ popular
“When Radio Was”
syndicated series, hosted by Stan Freberg, as well as numerous custom Web offerings, and will feature links to Audio Book Club’s various Web sites, including www.mediabay.com, www.audiobookclub.com and www.radiospirits.com.
In the soon-to-be-launched Classic Movies category, Audio Book Club will operate a station that will feature original radio adaptations of classic films as originally heard on the Lux Radio Theatre in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. These programs, to which the company maintains rights to through its Radio Spirits subsidiary, feature the films’ stars performing audio adaptations of the original scripts, including Humphrey Bogart in
“The African Queen”
and Jimmy Stewart in
“It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Later this fall, Audio Book Club and Microsoft will introduce an Audiobook Previews category, featuring a station dedicated to previews from Audio Book Club’s expansive catalog of titles, as well as author interviews and other audiobook-related content.
Windows Media Technologies will also enable listeners of these stations to click a convenient
to immediately purchase the content they are listening to, or to browse related products from Audio Book Club’s MediaBay.com.
Commenting on the agreement, Norton Herrick, chairman and co-CEO of Audio Book Club, stated,
We are delighted to have this opportunity to expand our relationship with Microsoft and to be able to provide millions of users of Windows Media worldwide with access to our vast array of unique audio content in a secure, digitally downloadable format. Given the fact that Windows Media Technologies 4 is able to achieve MP3 quality at half the file size while enabling strong copyright protection, we believe that today’s alliance not only solidifies our position as a premier online source of spoken-word content, but greatly enhances our ability to begin offering this content in a digitally downloadable format.
“By visiting the WindowsMedia.com site, audio enthusiasts will enjoy broadcasts of our content from a variety of categories, including audiobooks, audio movies and old-time radio. In addition, we will continue to expand our already flourishing e-commerce business by attracting the more than 40 million current Windows Media users to our various Web sites and enabling them to make purchases, join Audio Book Club or simply browse our complete selection of product offerings.”
“We’re excited that Audio Book Club is embracing Windows Media with its outstanding library of content,”
said Kevin Unangst, lead product manager, Streaming Media Division at Microsoft.
“The addition of several exciting new categories and stations by Audio Book Club on WindowsMedia.com is a fantastic example of the quality and breadth of content available to the millions of users of Windows Media.”
About Audio Book Club
Audio Book Club Inc. is the world’s largest marketer of audiobooks and old-time radio shows through its membership club, which markets and sells audiobooks, old-time radio shows and music via the Internet at http://www.audiobookclub.com/ and by mail order. MediaBay.com, an affiliate of Audio Book Club Inc., is the company’s media portal and e-commerce site, located at http://www.mediabay.com/ . MediaBay.com offers visitors a single location for the entertainment features of leading content-driven Web sites and the product selection and service of great commerce-driven sites. MediaBay.com enables customers to purchase product in either hard-goods format or secure digital download format. The MediaBay.com network of Web sites includes http://www.audiobookclub.com/ , http://www.audiobook.com/, http://www.radiospirits.com/ , http://www.videoyesteryear.com/ , and http://www.downloadbay.com/ .
Audio Book Club Inc. is also a publisher of audio and video content including classic radio and video programs, and markets and sells that content on audio cassettes, CDs and video cassettes via numerous distribution channels including the Internet at http://www.radiospirits.com/ , catalogs, radio shows, retail and other outlets. Since commencing operations in January 1994, Audio Book Club Inc. has engaged in an aggressive membership recruitment program to establish a core Audio Book Club member base. Following its recent acquisitions of Doubleday’s Audiobooks Direct and Columbia House’s Audiobook Club, Audio Book Club Inc. now has a combined membership and customer database of more than 2 million names. The company’s shareholders include Time Warner, Sony, Harvard Management Company Inc. on behalf of Harvard College, a fund advised by Soros Fund Management LLC, and funds managed by Jeffery Feinberg of JLF, a former partner at Soros and senior member of the Fidelity Magellan Fund.
About Windows Media
Windows Media Technologies is the leading digital media platform, providing consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations with unmatched audio and video quality. Windows Media Technologies version 4, which includes Windows Media Player, Windows Media Services, Windows Media Tools and Windows Media Audio SDK, is available for free download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/ (connect-time charges may apply). Over 40 million copies – more than one every second – of the free Windows Media Player have been downloaded to date.
WindowsMedia.com ( http://windowsmedia.com/ ), part of the MSN network of Internet services, is the fastest-growing major audio and video guide on the Internet. WindowsMedia.com provides access to localized audio and video content users worldwide, including over 700 radio stations and major music and video events from more than 1,000 content providers.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft 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.
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