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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 06:05 GMT
What to watch on the web
Online video may still be in its infancy, but there is already a dizzying amount to watch.

The quality is often questionable - but there are some good places to dip a toe into the online video ocean.

VIDEO-SHARING SITES

YouTube
YouTube viewers watch more than 100 million videos a day on the site
YouTube, the trailblazing site that has brought internet viewing to the mainstream, embraces everything from people filming themselves on hand-held camcorders to endless archive clips of music and TV.

The imagination and enthusiasm of some home-made offerings put the professionals to shame, even if the vast majority never rise above silly dances and inane rants.

Despite its sudden rise, YouTube still exists in the internet equivalent of the Wild West, where the copyright sheriff has not gained control.

And that is arguably the secret of its success - enter the name of your favourite band or programme and you will be presented with a string of nostalgic clips happily ripped off from TV or video.

Dozens of other video-sharing sites also now exist - some of the biggest are Google Video, MySpace Video, Revver, iFilm and Metacafe.

TV SHOWS

Desperate Housewives on Video iPod

Many broadcasters now put full shows online as well as on TV - either for a fee, with adverts or completely free.

In the US, Apple's iTunes sells hits like Lost, The Office and Battlestar Galactica for $1.99 (1.04) an episode. Amazon Unbox and AOL also offer major shows.

And networks such as ABC, Fox and NBC have all put their top shows on their own websites.

In the UK, the BBC is planning to offer its TV channels live over the web plus a seven-day catch-up service with its iPlayer next spring.

Channel 4 already offers a simulcast and is about to sell whole shows for 99p, while ITV is also preparing to launch a simulcast and 30-day catch-up service.

Two more new sites promise to bring online TV shows and social networking functions together, making it easier to find, share and recommend professional shows on the web.

Tape it off the Internet currently indexes more than 2,000 shows from a mixture of authorised and unauthorised sources.

The Venice Project, set up by the people behind Kazaa and Skype, will offer shows for free from legal sources using peer-to-peer technology, paid for by adverts.

Further afield, WWITV and Jump TV list hundreds of global TV stations that broadcast online, from Albania to Zimbabwe.

NEWS

All major news broadcasters now put a variety of videos on the web.

The BBC has headlines and reports as well as video podcasts like Storyfix, a quick and quirky round-up of some of the week's stories. Sky News and ITN also offer extensive news clips.

Alive in Baghdad
Alive in Baghdad gives an insight into real life in Iraq
In the US, NBC's Nightly News and Meet the Press have found a new on-demand audience, while others such as CNN give their coverage.

Aside from the main broadcasters, Alive in Baghdad tells the stories of real Iraqis in a way that is intimate, insightful and often jaw-dropping, with access that big Western media cannot get close to.

It has just been named best video blog at the first award ceremony for online-only video, the Vloggies.

A lighter take on the day's news, focusing on the hottest tech and web stories, comes from Rocketboom. Its British host, Joanne Colan, often presents the show from a desk in front of a world map in Manhattan.

WEB-ONLY COMEDY

Galacticast
Sci-fi comedy Galacticast is one of the leading home-made shows
There is a huge range of shows made for the web, both by enthusiastic amateurs and professionals, with a few standing head-and-shoulders above the rest.

Galacticast, a weekly sci-fi comedy shot in a Montreal apartment, is one of the few with enough talent and imagination to be truly funny and watchable.

Goodnight Burbank, a spoof TV news show created by and starring British writer Hayden Black, brilliantly satirises local US TV news and would not look out of place on a network.

Chad Vader follows the fortunes of Darth Vader's less competent younger brother, who manages a grocery store. And Ask a Ninja - a man in black in front of a red screen answering viewers' questions in a cod-Japanese accent - has really taken off.

Among the professional broadcasters, Comedy Central uses its website to showcase original ideas, including Good God - like The Office, but with God as the boss.

VIDEO BLOGS

The ease of making and sharing video has led to thousands of people chronicling their lives in online video diaries.

Lonelygirl15
Lonelygirl15's teenage traumas became a hit on the web
The most famous is Lonelygirl15, a teenager giving emotional updates on love and life from her bedroom, which became a cult hit among those attracted to its soap opera saga.

Except it did turn out to be fiction - made by aspiring film-makers and starring an actress from New Zealand.

A 79-year-old British man, Peter Oakley from Leicester, has become a true YouTube phenomenon under the alias Geriatric1927. His wartime memories and musings on how the world has changed have become a surprise hit.

One of the most successful video blogs is Beach Walks with Rox, made by Hawaii resident Roxanne Darling's, who delivers soothing and spiritual thoughts about life while walking her dog Lexi.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, 24-year-old Nora (Nornna on YouTube) carries her camcorder around almost everywhere she goes. Reality TV taken to an extreme length.

MORE GUIDES

The first award ceremony for web-only video took place at the start of November, and you can check out the Vloggies' judges' winners and people's choice winners.

Network 2 pulls together many web-only TV shows and ranks them based on viewers' ratings. Find Internet TV does a similar thing with all TV on the web.

Channel 101 is a web-only channel where budding film-makers submit shows and viewers vote on them, with only the best surviving.

And finally, back to YouTube, where the most-viewed videos and most-subscribed channels give you the best idea of what is popular.






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