Find streaming media on the Web
March 22, 1999
March 22, 1999
by JoAnne Robb
(IDG) -- There's plenty of streaming audio and video available on the Web, but finding what you want can be tougher than locating the proverbial needle in that hypothetical haystack.
Enter the TV Guides of the Internet: RealNetworks' RealGuide and Microsoft's Web Events.
This week, each has upgraded its format and content listings to make it easier to you to find the right streaming audio and video.
The updated sites have a lot in common. Each lists top events of the day. Each also lets you link to a number of specific topics and access the "on-demand" content related to that topic.
RealGuide's topics cover everything from News to Sports to Music to Money. Under each topic area, RealGuide focuses on the top sites or stations, then goes on to list all the other radio broadcast stations or Internet sites that have something to offer in that area. And with approximately 1700 affiliated radio stations and over 3000 sites that provide streaming audio and video content, you'll have a lot of options to choose from.
Microsoft's Web Events site has twice as many topic categories to choose from -- including Art or Movies or Webcam. But the site doesn't offer nearly the variety of listings: It only has 700 sites and stations on its pick list. However, it does offer some interesting features. For example, if you enter your zip code, you can pick up local news on a radio station. And if you're interested, you can subscribe to an emailed HTML newsletter that will provide you with more information.
Of course, it's no coincidence that each of these two companies has its own streaming audio and video player, and that each site lists audio and video content that works with its own player.
To date, 55 million people have downloaded RealNetworks' RealPlayer. Microsoft's Windows Media Player is only about half as popular, with 27 million downloaded players.
It's no surprise, either, that Microsoft is fighting hard for a bigger piece of the pie.
With the release of Internet Explorer 5, you'll find that Windows Media Player is built right into the browser, allowing you to listen to radio or view streaming audio without downloading a plug-in first.
Does RealNetworks feel that this puts its RealPlayer at a disadvantage? Not according to Mark Hall, General Manager of Media Publishing for RealNetworks. "It may sound a little clichéd, but we're mostly concerned with satisfying those folks who already have our player with things like the RealGuide and making sure that our programming is great," Hall says.
RealNetworks isn't ignoring Internet Explorer 5: It has designed a menu -- compatible with the new browser -- that will sit at the bottom of your screen. If you're a RealPlayer user, you'll have one-button access to the top event listings on the RealGuide site.
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