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Report: MTV, RealNetworks join forces against Apple

Viacom's MTV partners with operator of Rhapsody music service after Microsoft-partnership peters out, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Viacom's MTV has plans to align its digital music strategy with RealNetworks, a move that likely marks the end of a similar partnership between MTV and Microsoft, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

A year ago, analysts loved the idea that Microsoft appeared to be challenging Apple's powerhouse music store, iTunes, by joining forces with a music-industry icon in MTV.

But MTV's Urge music service fell flat.

One reason may have been that shortly after Urge launched, Microsoft directed much of its attention toward the Zune music player and a digital download store that would not only compete with iTunes but also Urge.

According to the Journal's story, which cited unnamed sources, MTV has recently stopped devoting resources to Urge.

RealNetworks, the operator of the Rhapsody music service, could use some help. The subscriber-based service has failed to make up much ground on iTunes, which recently announced that it has sold more than 3 billion songs and became the nation's third-largest music retailer ahead of Amazon and Target.

But while MTV is a decades-old and very recognizable brand among music fans, the company has fallen behind when it comes to the Internet. Sites like FaceBook, MySpace, and YouTube have lured millions of young people to their sites, and away from television, while MTV has struggled to find a cohesive Web strategy.