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PointCast may offer paid service

The leader in "push" technology will probably add at least one subscription service.

PALM SPRINGS, California--PointCast, which broadcasts news and advertising that appears as screensavers on PCs linked to the Net, will probably add at least one subscription service in the second half of this year, CEO Chris Hassett said in an interview with CNET today.

"We opted to go for a distribution model that got us large numbers of people early," Hassett said of PointCast's current ad-supported business, which has attracted about 1.5 million users. "We're set up now to introduce subscription content to that existing market."

PointCast's service pushes news and information to users' computers as "channels" of content in areas like business or sports. The push model reduces the time Net users must surf to locate relevant information, and PointCast has proven a hot advertising opportunity--its minimum buy is $42,000.

Hassett declined to say what kind of content PointCast might offer or how much it would charge, but he said users have expressed interest in financial data, such as consensus earnings estimates from First Call. Other types of information, such as seismology maps for the North Sea, might be of interest to a narrow market like companies in the oil industry.

"There are a lot of people willing to pay for value," Hassett said.