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Excite@Home plays video on high speed

The company says it will launch a video channel for its broadband customers as it seeks to feed demand for the nascent high-speed Internet market.

Excite@Home today said it will launch a video channel for its broadband customers as it seeks to feed demand for the nascent high-speed Internet market.

Dubbed Excite ClickVideo, the initiative builds on distribution arrangements with its existing content partners. Videos will include animation, short films, news, sports and other offerings aimed at viewers connecting to the Internet via high-speed, or broadband, connections.

The distribution agreements come as Excite@Home is making a major bet to maintain and extend its lead as the largest fast-connection Internet service provider. In staking out that territory, the company is already following a long-standing media rule: Content is king.

The new channel will be hosted on the company's recently launched @Home 2000 site, a Web destination catering to "rich" media content specifically geared for broadband connections.

"Broadband isn't just about fast, always-on activity; it's what you can do with it that's novel," said Joe Laszlo, senior analyst for Jupiter Communications. "So I think having the right kind of video and a well-packaged video offering is going to be important to attract and satisfy customers who are looking for a really different experience from broadband."

Most analysts expect high-speed Internet connections, such as those offered by cable modems, digital subscriber lines (DSL), satellites and wireless technologies, to explode in popularity and availability in the next few years. As a result, many Web sites and streaming media companies are developing special content such as video clips, animation and audio for those so-called broadband pipes to attract customers.

Numerous other portals offer high-speed versions of their services for people with the bandwidth to comfortably view the complex content. Snap, a portal operated by NBC Internet (NBCi), began offering high-speed content via its Cyclone service last year.

CNET Networks, publisher of News.com, owns a stake in NBCi. Snap was a CNET spinoff.

Solving the content equation has proven difficult over the short term, however. Faced with the reality that high-speed Net connections remain limited in availability, some companies have already scaled back ambitious plans for new applications and broadband content.

Web giant Yahoo this year launched a streaming audio and video show, FinanceVision, that focuses on financial news and information. But the company has taken other broadband efforts off the front burner--its "Turbo Yahoo" initiative announced last year, for example.

Web portal Lycos has also seen plans for its "Lycos Lightning" broadband effort lose steam.

Finding the right content mix will be crucial for Excite@Home, whose stock has languished as it struggles to find direction in the crowded portal market. The company's latest efforts come in the midst of a management shakeup and executive departures and a pending plan by AT&T to increase its stake in the company's voting stock from about 56 percent to 74 percent. The deal has been postponed pending a challenge by rival Cablevision Systems.

ClickVideo is hosted on the @Home 2000 site. Each partner has agreed to send one video clip a week to include in Excite ClickVideo's library that is categorized by genre and searchable by keyword. Content partners include iFilm, AtomFilms, Bloomberg News, Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, FoxNews.com, Mondo Media, Quokka Sports and Showtime Networks' WhirlGirl on SHO.com.

ClickVideo will also let subscribers personalize their video experience by selecting the content they want to watch and organizing it on their "My ClickVideo" page. They can add and remove feeds, films and shows on their personalized video list.

"We're absolutely not trying to be like TV," said Richard Gingras, general manager for Excite Studios at Excite@Home. "We're trying to take advantage of this sophistication of the video medium and to use that to bring as much value to our users as possible, but in a fashion that's different than television."

News.com's Corey Grice and Reuters contributed to this report.