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RealNetworks tops estimates

The multimedia streaming company trims its losses from the year-ago period and beats the Street's expectations with its third-quarter earnings report.

RealNetworks trimmed its losses from the year-ago period and beat Wall Street's expectations when it reported third-quarter earnings today.

The multimedia streaming company posted a net loss of $1.4 million or 4 cents per share, narrower than the net loss of $2.2 million or 9 cents per share it posted for the like quarter a year ago, on a pro forma basis.

Financial analysts pegged the company for a loss of 7 cents per share, according to First Call.

RealNetworks' quarterly revenue rose to $17.2 million, nearly doubling the $9.1 million in revenue it reported for the year-ago period.

"Our business results this quarter demonstrate continued rapid growth in the demand for streaming audio and video on the Internet," chief executive Rob Glaser said in a statement.

The Internet broadcasts of President Clinton's grand jury testimony last month were heralded as a coming-of-age for the streaming media over the Internet, and analysts said it benefited companies such as Broadcast.com and RealNetworks.

"[More than] 2 million viewers watched the Clinton testimony online using our RealVideo technology, including 600,000 users watching through our Real Broadcast Network," Glaser said.

During the quarter ended September 30, the company added a distribution deal with America Online, began selling 7th Level's animation software, and signed a pact with chip giant Intel to license RealNetworks' video compression technology.

Yesterday the company announced another distribution deal with Netscape Communications.

The company said that it now has more than 35 million registered users of its RealPlayer software and that more than 8 million copies of its second-generation RealPlayer G2 product were downloaded during a recent three-month period.

RealNetworks stock closed more than 1 percent higher today at 37.875 prior to the earnings announcement.

The company's stock took a tumble in July after Glaser testified at a Senate hearing that Microsoft's competing multimedia software disables RealNetwork's software when both products are installed, inciting a war of words.

The shares have traded as high as 48.25 and as low as 13.5 during the past 52 weeks.