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RealNetworks, Inc.
Type Public
Traded as NASDAQ: RNWK
Industry Computer software
Founded 1995
Headquarters Seattle, Washington, USA
Key people Rob Glaser, Chairman and CEO[1]
Products RealPlayer
Software as a service
Revenue Decrease$209.2 Million (2013)[2]
Net income Increase$5 Million USD (2010)[3]
Employees 1,060 (2012)[4]
Website .com.realnetworkswww
Promotional merchandise with the RealNetworks logo

RealNetworks, Inc. is a provider of Internet streaming media delivery software and services based in Seattle, Washington, United States. The company is the creator of RealAudio, a compressed audio format; RealVideo, a compressed video format; RealPlayer, a media player; RealDownloader, a download manager; Unifi, a Personal Cloud media service; Rinse, a digital music library cleanup tool; and Helix technology for delivering digital media to PCs, mobile phone, and other devices. The company also manages subscription-based online entertainment services including SuperPass and GameHouse RealNetworks’ software as a service group also provides mobile entertainment and messaging services to mobile carriers.


  • History 1
  • Headquarters 2
  • Products and services 3
    • Subscription services 3.1
    • RealDVD 3.2
    • Real Alternative 3.3
    • RealPlayer Cloud 3.4
    • Helix 3.5
    • GameHouse 3.6
  • References 4
  • External links 5


RealNetworks (then known as Progressive Networks) was founded by an ex-Microsoft executive, Rob Glaser and a management team including Phil Barrett, Andy Sharpless, and Steve Buerkle, in 1994. The original goal of the company was to provide a distribution channel for politically progressive content. It evolved into a technology venture to leverage the Internet as an alternative distribution medium for audio broadcasts. Progressive Networks became RealNetworks in September 1997.

RealNetworks are pioneers in the streaming media markets and broadcast one of the earlier audio events over the Internet - a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners - on September 5, 1995. They announced streaming video technology in 1997. According to some accounts, by 2000, more than 85% of streaming content on the Internet was in the Real format.[5]

Despite this success, problems arose because Real's primary business model depended upon the sale of streaming media server software, and Microsoft and Apple were giving those products away. As servers from Microsoft and Apple became more capable, Real's server sales inevitably eroded.[6]

On January 20, 2000, RealNetworks, Inc. filed an injunction against Streambox, Inc. regarding the aforementioned company's product designed to convert Real Audio (.rm) formatted files to other formats.[7] On December 4, 2001, the company was to launch the first coordinated effort to sell and deliver music from major record labels over the Internet, part of a broader initiative by the company to develop subscription Internet services aimed at Web users with fast Internet connections.[8] In 2002, a strategic alliance was formed between RealNetworks and Sony Corporation to expand collaboration.[9] In October, 2005, Microsoft agreed to pay RealNetworks $460 million to settle an antitrust lawsuit.[10]

In August 2003, RealNetworks acquired's Rhapsody music service, and renamed it RealRhapsody. It offered streaming music downloads for a monthly fee. In January 2004, RealNetworks announced the RealPlayer Music Store, featuring digital rights management (DRM) restricted music in the AAC file format. After some initial tries to push their own DRM scheme (named Helix DRM) onto all device manufacturers with the Creative Zen Xtra and the Sansa e200r as the only existing compliant devices, they sparked controversy by introducing a technology called Harmony that allowed their music to play on iPods as well as Microsoft Windows Media Audio DRM-equipped devices using a "wrapper" that would convert Helix DRM into the two other target DRM schemes.

The domain attracted at least 67 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study.[11]

On April 6, 2010, Rhapsody was spun off from RealNetworks.

In July 2013, RealNetworks acquired Slingo for $15.6 million.[12]


RealNetworks headquarters

RealNetworks has its headquarters in Downtown Seattle, Washington, United States.[13][14] The headquarters is located above Seattle's waterfront. In 2010 the company announced plans to sublease a portion of the headquarters.[15]

Products and services

Subscription services

In 2000, one of the initial products, the download manager RealDownload, was already used for pushing small software, such as games, to subscribers' computers. On top of the subscription for RealDownload and using its RealVideo streaming technology, a service called GoldPass, including unlimited access for video snippets from ABC and movie previews, was offered to registered users for a $10 a month fee.[16] More content was added through deals with CBS for the reality show Big Brother and NBA basketball.

After the dot-com crash, RealNetworks cut most of the resources. Some of the content was lost, some was limited to local markets (e.g., Ministry of Sound was available only to UK subscribers). With the increase in broadband usage, RealNetworks started offering live broadcasts of CNN International, BBC World, Al-Jazeera etc., separately for prices between $6 and $12, or bundled in the SuperPass for about $35 a month depending on the market. Between 2003 and 2006, SuperPass included, for European subscribers, unlimited access to UEFA Champions League full-length game recordings.


On September 30, 2008, RealNetworks launched a new product called RealDVD. The software allows any user to save a copy of a DVD movie they own. The company was later found to have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and RealNetworks' contract with the DVD CCA, as the software also allowed anyone to save a movie they do not legally own. (See RealNetworks, Inc. v. DVD Copy Control Association, Inc.).[17] The product's distribution was barred by a court injunction.[18][19]

Real Alternative

Real Alternative is a discontinued software bundle that allows users to play RealMedia files without installing RealPlayer.[20][21] The last version, 2.02, was released on February 19, 2010. It included Media Player Classic.[22][23]

Beginning in 2010, RealNetworks sued Hilbrand Edskes, a 26-year old Dutch webmaster for having inserted hyperlinks to Real Alternative on his website RealNetworks alleges that Real Alternative is a reverse engineered package.[24] Meanwhile,[21] and FileHippo[20] continue to host the software product, unchallenged.[25]

In November 2011 RealNetworks' case against Edskes was dismissed and RealNetworks was ordered to pay him 48,000 Euros in damages.[26][27] Details of the case and judgement have been published.[28]

RealPlayer Cloud

RealNetworks in September 2013 launched RealPlayer Cloud, a service that adds the ability to share videos recorded on smartphones and tablets. RealPlayer Cloud ties into the existing RealPlayer, however it also has a web app and apps for Android, iOS and Roku. The service has 2GB of free cloud storage and more storage for a monthly fee.[29]


Helix is a suite of streaming media software and services intended for digital TV set-top boxes, mobile devices, as well as QuickTime, Flash and other programs.[30][31][32] It includes the Helix open-source code and the Helix Universal Server, which hosts, distributes and manages digital rights for multimedia content.[32] Helix competes with the Windows Media 9 Series from Microsoft, but has a greater emphasis on open-source.[31][32] Helix was announced in July 2002.[31] Support for mobile devices was added in November 2005.[33]


RealNetworks entered the gaming market in October 2001 with RealArcade,[34][35] a PC game distribution application that allows users to play casual video games for free for 60 minutes, then decide if they want to purchase it. Many of the games were developed by GameHouse, which RealNetworks acquired for $35.6 million in 2004.[36] In 2010, RealNetworks re-launched its gaming division under the name Gamehouse.[37] It began focusing on social games, such as Facebook apps[38] and in 2013 acquired casual casino games company, Slingo, for $15.6 million.[39]


  1. ^ Kerr, Dave (July 30, 2014). "RealNetworks names Rob Glaser its permanent CEO". CNET. Retrieved August 30, 2014. 
  2. ^ "RealNetworks, Inc. 2013 Annual Report on Form 10-K". RealNetworks. p. 19. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Company Profile for RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK)". Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  4. ^ "Company Profile for RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK)". Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  5. ^ "RealNetworks Inc.". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  6. ^ "The History & Future of Real Networks". Internet Video Magazine. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  7. ^ (January 18, 2000) Real Networks, Inc. v. Streambox, Inc. Case Summary, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  8. ^ "Realnetworks is set to launch music service". 
  9. ^ "Sony, RealNetworks Form Tech Alliance". May 1, 2002. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  10. ^ Montalbano, Elizabeth. "Microsoft, RealNetworks Settle for $761 Million", PCWorld, October 11, 2005. Retrieved on June 29, 2012.
  11. ^ attracts 67 million visitors annually
  12. ^ "RealNetworks Acquires Slingo". RTTNews. July 31, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Contact Us." RealNetworks. Retrieved on May 26, 2011. "Corporate Headquarters RealNetworks, Inc. 2601 Elliott Avenue Seattle, WA 98121"
  14. ^ "Cantwell's company pulls welcome mat out from under Gorton." The News Tribune. November 1, 2000. Retrieved on May 26, 2011. "[...] in front of RealNetworks' downtown Seattle office after the hour-long tour."
  15. ^ Dudley, Brier. "RealNetworks reorganizes again, cuts 85 jobs, renting space." The Seattle Times. June 22, 2010. Retrieved on May 26, 2011.
  16. ^ Kieskowski, Ellie (August 15, 2000). "RealNetworks Launches Subscription Service". Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  17. ^ The New York Times (October 1, 2008) Studios sue to bar a DVD copying program, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  18. ^ Hachman, Mark (August 11, 2009). "RealNetworks Loses DVD Copying Decision". PC Magazine. Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  19. ^  
  20. ^ a b "Real Alternative 2.02".  
  21. ^ a b "Real Alternative".  
  22. ^ "Real Alternative 2.02 - Technical details". FileHippo. February 20, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Real Alternative 2.0.2". February 19, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2011. 
  24. ^ De Winter, Brenno (August 25, 2011). "RealNetworks crushes Dutch webmaster for hyperlink". PC Advisor ( 
  25. ^ Masnick, Mike (August 26, 2011). "RealNetworks Destroying Dutch Webmaster's Life Because He Linked To A Reverse Engineered Alternative". TechDirt. Retrieved August 29, 2011. 
  26. ^ de Winter, Brenno (November 7, 2011). "RealNetworks gaat door met rechtszaak om hyperlink". WebWerld (Dutch language). Retrieved December 9, 2011. 
  27. ^ Collin, Branko (November 6, 2011). "Internet thugs Realnetworks lose case against Hilbrand Edskes". 24Oranges. Retrieved December 9, 2011. 
  28. ^ "LJN: BU3223, Rechtbank 's-Gravenhage , 363011 / HA ZA 10-1233". de Rechtspraak (Dutch language). November 4, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2011. 
  29. ^ "With its new cloud player, RealNetworks is trying the next big turnaround — Tech News and Analysis". September 24, 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  30. ^ Ozer, Jan (November 2012). "A closer look at streaming servers". Sound & Video Contractor. 
  31. ^ a b c Applebaum, Simon (July 28, 2002). "RealNetworks Is Streaming Against the Microsoft Tide". Multichannel News. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b c Kerschbaumer, Ken (July 28, 2002). "RealNetworks launches Helix". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  33. ^ "RealNetworks Upgrades Helix To Support Wireless Networks". InformationWeek. November 16, 2005. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  34. ^ Richman, Dan (January 26, 2004). "RealNetworks to buy game developer GameHouse". Seattle Post. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  35. ^ Haley, Colin (October 11, 2001). "RealNetworks Launches Streaming Video Game Service". InternetNews. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  36. ^ Evers, Joris (January 26, 2004). "RealNetworks Acquires GameHouse". PCWorld (IDG News Service). Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  37. ^ Pham, Alex (May 4, 2010). "RealNetworks renovates its GameHouse business to be more social". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  38. ^ Takahashi, Dean (September 22, 2011). "Real Networks’ GameHouse makes its run at social gaming". VentureBeat. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  39. ^ Takahashi, Dean (July 31, 2013). "RealNetworks buys Slingo for $15.6M as it doubles down on social casino games". 

External links

  • Official website for RealPlayer
  • RealNetworks Public Source License and other licenses for the Helix project
  • Real Guide - RealNetworks Product List

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