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Yahoo! video service goes live.

Yahoo! is planning a Monday launch of its paid video subscriber service, which will feature news, sports and entertainment clips, pitting the company against a comparable service offered by RealNetworks.

Yahoo! Platinum, as previously reported, will feature content from News Corp.'s Fox television network, Viacom's CBS and Walt Disney's ABCNews.com, according to sources close to the portal giant. The service will carry a monthly fee of $9.95, or about £6.50, or a higher charge of $16.95 for a sports package.

As part of the broadband and dial-up Platinum service, subscribers can receive weekly access to video clips from such popular TV reality shows as "American Idol", along with programs ABC News' "World News Tonight", "20/20" and "Good Morning America", and market reports from CBS MarketWatch TV program every 30 minutes.

The Yahoo! Platinum SportsPak, meanwhile, will offer the first, second and regional semi-final rounds of the NCAA division I men's basketball championship beginning on Tuesday, via access to SportsLine.com. It marks the first time the event will be seen live over the Internet.

In the coming weeks, Yahoo! Platinum is expected to pick up content from CNBC Dow Jones Business, National Geographic and Warren Miller Entertainment.

Yahoo! plans to add more content to its existing categories, and branch out into new categories, said David Mandelbrot, Yahoo!'s vice president and general manager of media, entertainment, information and finance. Music and children's programming may eventually be offered, as well, if users want it, if it's available and fits into Yahoo!'s business model, he added.

"We're shifting from providing users with information on entertainment to providing entertainment," Mandelbrot said.

Yahoo!, like other advertising-dependent Web sites, is seeking other revenue sources in the economic downturn. The video service is just the latest paid version among Yahoo!'s offerings. The company's fee-based online radio service Launchcast Plus debuted in late January.

The Platinum service will place Yahoo! in direct competition with RealNetworks' RealOne SuperPass. That service has garnered 900,000 subscribers who are willing to pay a monthly fee of $9.95.

The Platinum streaming video service also falls in line with Yahoo! chief executive Terry Semel's plans to push the company's broadband efforts. Yahoo! last September launched a co-branded digital subscriber line service with SBC Communications. During the past year, these efforts have bolstered Yahoo!'s total subscriber base to reach an excess of 2 million people.

Source: zdnet.co.uk

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