Napster and NTL get into a bundle

Stealing a march on iTunes' launch?

Stealing a march on iTunes' launch?

With the biggest name in legal music downloading – Apple's iTunes – rumoured to be announcing its European launch date on Tuesday, rival service Napster has got into bed with broadband supplier NTL to bundle its service with the company's fat pipe subscriptions.

The deal between the two will see Napster's subscription service with a 30-day free trial with NTL's Broadband Plus package – a £3.99 paid-for content bundle, offering music, news, education and entertainment. The Broadband Plus package will cost £9.95 a month with the music download service thrown in.

NTL now has over a million broadband subscribers in the UK and according to the ISP, three-quarters of those with high-speed web access download music every month. NTL will be promoting Napster via emails to customers and links on its homepage.

Napster also signed a promotion deal with Dixons last month and recently boosting its library to over 700,000 tracks.

The tie-up between Napster and NTL will officially start in July but the timing of the announcement could be all important. It's thought iTunes will be officially launched in France, Germany and the UK from tomorrow. The US iTunes service has sold over 85 million downloads to date.

Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that iTunes holds a 70 per cent market share for music downloading and views its chief competitors as illegal sites, not fellow legitimate song sellers.

"[Piracy]'s big. And that's what we compete with really. We compete really with piracy," he said.