SoapCity Offers Daily Uploads

Want day-and-date release of TV shows for on-demand viewing? Look no further than your broadband data connection.

Sony Pictures Digital's has started to release same-day episodes of two soap operas, The Young and the Restless
and As the World Turns, for broadband subscribers willing to pay $9.99 per show per month, or $1.99 for each episode.

Sony has been testing similar pay models with library soap operas, using Real Networks technology. Last week's announcement kicks the effort up a notch, allowing viewers who can't see the first-run broadcasts to download versions of the sudsers to their office or home computers.

Sony officials described Soap City Download as a way to "offer the on-the-go soap fan the exclusive opportunity to keep up with the shows."

Daily episodes are to be posted on the SoapCity Web site by 4 p.m. PST each day. No ads will appear in the online versions.

Consumers can watch unlimited viewings of downloaded episodes on their PC monitors for up to 28 days.

Sony counts 3.4 million monthly visitors to its SoapCity Web site.

AOL's new tune

Sony's not the only company banking on increased broadband penetration to make money on content. Two years after MusicNet launched with the backing of Warner Music, among other record labels, sister company America Online last week launched the online music subscription service on its platform.

AOL subscribers can choose from three MusicNet offerings: 20 streams and 20 downloads for $3.95 a month; unlimited streaming and downloading for $8.95 a month; or unlimited streaming and downloading, plus the ability to burn 10 songs each month to CD, for $17.95.

MusicNet is owned by Real Networks, Warner Music, EMI and Bertlesmann Music Group. Its library contains 250,000 songs from all five major record labels.

In addition to the initial tiers of service, AOL plans to offer à la carte audio burning later this year, probably for $1 per song.

Separately, AOL Music said it would use Savage Beast Technologies Inc. software for a music search and recommendation service.

And Sonic Solutions signed a deal with AOL allowing the online services provider to incorporate Sonic's CD audio, CD-ROM and DVD-ROM burning technologies. Sonic would provide the CD burning capabilities afforded by the new MusicNet service.