Microsoft, DirecTV, RCA link

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Microsoft Corp., DirecTV and RCA marketer Thomson Multimedia on Monday announced an alliance to offer the RCA DirecTV System with Microsoft UltimateTV service. The trio is targeting the estimated 28 million Americans who watch TV and cruise the Internet at the same time--with the new system, they will be able to perform both activities simultaneously on the same screen. The RCA set-top box with Microsoft UltimateTV service will debut before Christmas, and will be positioned to compete against interactive TV services TiVo and Replay Networks. The new service will be offered as an addition to DirecTV's standard satellite programming packages. The set-top box will provide 210 channels of digital satellite broadcasting, more than 30 hours of digital audio-video recording capability, online time and e-mail. It also will allow users to watch two shows on DirecTV simultaneously, or they can watch one show while recording another onto the RCA set-top box. DirecTV, Thomson and Microsoft's WebTV Networks, Mountain View, Calif., will advertise the new service separately and join in co-marketing efforts. WebTV Networks agency FCB Worldwide, San Francisco, will spearhead a fall campaign for the new service. Indianapolis-based Thomson is handled by Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York. DirecTV, El Segundo, Calif., currently is reviewing its account. WebTV Networks also plans to expand UltimateTV, building it as a brand centering on the TV experience.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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