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Summary:

When RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) released its Q408 earnings after hours Thursday, it also included some data the company says it is releasing…

imageWhen RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) released its Q408 earnings after hours Thursday, it also included some data the company says it is releasing for the first time: subscriber numbers. It’s not as detailed as some of us might like — for instance, basic Rhapsody for $12.99 and Rhapsody-to-Go for $14.99 are lumped together with no color about how many get which — but it’s more than we had before. The grand total: Real says it has 34.1 million total subscribers across all of its services — direct to consumer and through other providers. That includes ringback tones, music-on-demand, video-on-demand, Rhapsody, Rhapsody-to-Go, RadioPass, SuperPass, GamePass, and stand-alone subscriptions.

Some details:

Real claims 2.85 million total music subscribers. That breaks down as follows: Rhapsody , 775,000 and radio, 1.225 million, for a total of 2 million; those who subscribe through other providers or get music on demand account for another 875,000. The numbers do not include the free Rhapsody 25 or SuperPass subscribers.

Some of the numbers have been consistent for multiple consecutive quarters. For instance, Rhapsody counted 600,000 subs for six straight quarters from Q107 through Q208. Then the numbers started to tick up, something a Rhapsody spokesman attributes, in part, to the surge of promotion from MTVN (NYSE: VIA) as part of the Rhapsody America JV. Real also attributes it to the promotion of its wireless partner Verizon (NYSE: VZ). Less clear: how many of the new subs come from the deal to take over Yahoo’s premium music service.

In Q308, Rhapsody subs rose to 750,000.
At the same time, though, revenue from music has been more fluid, hitting a peak of $43.8 million in Q408, the third quarter of sequential growth. That revenue includes subscriptions, download sales, site advertising, and distribution of third-party products.

This is a first read so I’m sure other details will pop out — and more questions.

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  1. staci — part of the bump, no doubt, comes from the stepped up marketing not only by the rhapsody america JV but its wireless partner, verizon, which has also been marketing the service heavily since summer.

    the bump in mid-to-late 2008 also corresponds to when rhapsody picked up subscribers from yahoo, so factor that in as well (though the yahoo premium venture never really took off, and presumably the number of subscribers acquired was low).

  2. Staci D. Kramer Friday, February 13, 2009

    Thanks, Alan. I added the points about Verizon and Yahoo above; I should have included them originally.

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