Realtime broadcasting available from the web -- Sites such as and Talkspot provide live coverage of sports, news, and comedy

By David Kushner
Updated January 15, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Realtime broadcasting available from the web

Not too long ago, real-time broadcasting on the Net was limited to one dinky webcam aimed at a coffeepot in England. These days, live netcasting is big business, with major players like and RealNetworks vying to bring audio and video feeds of concerts, talk shows, and yes, cattle auctions to your desktop. There’s even a host of competing TV Guide-type sites, like ChannelSEEK and RealGuide, to help you keep track. Netcasters haven’t achieved the cultural impact of, say, Saturday Night Live or War of the Worlds, but they’re trying (witness last June’s airing of a live birth from Florida). If you’ve got the modem speed (14.4 or above for audio; at least 28.8 for smooth video play), download freeware like RealNetworks’ RealPlayer or Microsoft’s NetShow to tune in:

One of the oldest and biggest netcasting sites, has netcast more than 16,000 events (audio only, for the most part) since launching in 1995. Happenings range from splashy (audio-video feeds from the Super Bowl, backstage audio interviews from the Academy Awards) to mundane (video of an Arizona newscast on anti-bacterial gels). A concisely organized channel guide lets you easily surf between a radio station in Tampa and this week’s East Carolina University football game. A must for long-distance sports fans. A-

Okay, you might look silly waving a lighter and singing ”Free Bird” at your desk, but it’s still worth booting up Live Concerts, RealNetworks’ and House of Blues’ in-house home for nearly nightly audio gigs by artists ranging from Willie Nelson to Yellowman. For an even more dynamic lineup, click over to KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, featured within the LiveConcerts site. This ultracool Santa Monica radio show has rare interviews/performances week after week, with archived gems featuring artists like Tom Waits and P.J. Harvey. A-

Offline talk-show hosts are washing up on TalkSpot, which produces original talk radio for the Net. Here’s where conservatives Alan Keyes, and former Rush Limbaugh producer James Golden squeeze their dog-and-phony shows onto the wires. Listeners hang out while listening to the audio streams, which are complemented by online chat rooms. If any site can lure the Jerry Springer crowd into the ether, TalkSpot’s the one. B-

Turn on, tune in, stand up. Launched last May, ComedyNet brings live yuks to the Web. Every week there are streaming videos of shows from national clubs, including the Punchline in San Francisco, plus such special events as the Marshall’s Women in Comedy Festival, a recent New York City benefit. Most of these comics may not be A-list, but they’re way funnier than your office’s e-mail joke list. Unfortunately, for now the netcasts are one-way, so there’s no chance to heckle — or even type — back. B+