by Mark Rabinowitz
In a move that consolidated two of the companies atop the streaming media business, RealNetworks, Inc., the leading streaming media company has purchased Vivo Software Inc. for 1.1 million new shares of RealNetworks (NASDAQ "RNWK") stock, valued at $17.1 million. Vivo is the industry leader in streaming media creation tools and in the transfer, RealNetworks will acquire Vivo technology, intellectual property, customer base and key Vivo personnel. Streaming media is a way in which video or audio are transmitted to the web surfer without the user having to wait for it to download fully before seeing or hearing the clip.
Massachusetts-based Vivo was founded in 1993 and has created tools, such as VivoActive 2.0, that enable web developers and filmmakers to create streaming media content for the World Wide Web and corporate intranets. In a letter to their customers, Vivo stated that "Vivo and RealNetworks are committed to continuing to offer VivoActive products (and) to support the .viv file format." In addition, both companies have endorsed Microsoft's ASF file format and will "continue their close relationship with Microsoft."
As filmmakers discover the web, they are also discovering the ways they can use streaming media, especially as a promotional tool. While compression technology and bandwidth are not yet at levels that allow at-home users to effectively receive streaming video, anyone with ISDN or faster capacity (many film studios use such high capacity lines) can download streaming video. Filmmakers also are starting to utilize streaming videos, showing trailers and clips on various sites throughout the web.
[For more information about these companies, check out the following web sites:
Examples of VivoActive short film streaming can be found at: www.vivo.com/special/filmmag ]