EarthLink said Tuesday that it has teamed with Paramount Digital Entertainment to offer "Star Trek"-branded Net access in an attempt to seek out new subscribers.
The service, available to people using dial-up or high-speed Internet connections, offers fans a "Star Trek"-themed browser, a StarTrek.net e-mail address, and other features such as desktop wallpaper, sounds and icons. In addition, subscribers will receive sneak peeks at "Star Trek" productions, interviews with the cast and crew, and other content related to the premiere season of "Enterprise," the latest installment of the "Star Trek" TV series.
The launch comes as EarthLinkto keep pace with competitors including Internet and media giant AOL Time Warner. Atlanta-based EarthLink, with just 4.8 million customers, lags behind America Online and Microsoft's MSN, which count 33 million and 7.7 million members, respectively.
Both AOL and MSN have been working to attract new subscribers with exclusive promotions involving popular, chart-topping and new .
Meanwhile, EarthLink has been attempting to speed past its rivals by making an aggressive push todial-up customers to broadband. Last month, EarthLink signed with PC makers to prominently place its high-speed service on Presarios, Compaq Computer's line of PCs.
Analysts said it remains to be seen whether people will rush to sign up for EarthLink's "Star Trek" service, especially since only a small portion of Web surfers log onto Paramount's Web site for the series. Research firm Nielsen/NetRatings said that over the last year, the site saw 300,000 to 740,000 unique visitors a month.
"'Star Trek' as a franchise doesn't have a widespread appeal on a consistent basis," said Jarvis Mak, a senior analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings. "Financially, it would be interesting to see how it works out because it would take a lot of resources to update their new content all the time and modify it so that it's constantly providing subscribers with interesting things that make it worthwhile for them to subscribe to this."
EarthLink said the new service is available through various channels, including Paramount's "Star Trek" Web site. EarthLink subscribers can use StarTrek.net at no additional cost. New subscribers can sign up for the services for $21.95 per month.