Podcast Directory The word ‘Zune’ in the title refers to the Zune website and not the Zune media player.

There are basically two ways by which you can catch your favorite audio and video podcasts on the web.

Option 1. You can subscribe to podcasts inside a podcatcher like iTunes, Miro, Juice or the Zune desktop software. These tools will automatically download the new podcast episodes and you can even watch them on your desktop or your mobile device even while you are offline.

Option 2. Some media players (like iTunes and Android’s Listen) can directly stream audio and video podcasts over the Internet so you can enjoy them without having to download the full episode. This is very helpful when the video file is too large and you just want to watch the first few minutes of the episode.

The only limitation with the above methods is that they require you install some kind of software on the computer before you can watch or listen to the podcasts.

Catch your Favorite Podcasts Online

In case you don’t consider yourself a “podcast enthusiast” but just a casual listener, check out zune.net/podcasts – this is a web-based podcast directory that won’t just help you discover new podcasts but you can also watch any of the podcast episodes in the browser itself without requiring Zune or any other software.

Video Podcast in Browser

For instance, this screenshot is of a TWIG* episode on the Zune website that’s streaming over the internet. You just open the podcast page on zune.net and hit the play button next to any episode that you want to watch.

The iTunes web directory at itunes.apple.com too offers streaming but it’s limited to audio podcasts only while the Zune directory supports both audio and video podcasts. 

There’s another nice feature in the Zune website. You can manually create a playlist using various podcasts and let all of them play in a queue outside the browser. This only works with audio podcasts though.

Podcast Playlist

There are some other popular podcast directories on the web (like Odeo) that too offer podcast streaming but what I like about Zune’s podcast directory is that it is very actively maintained by the Zune staff and fully functional in the browser as long as your have the SilverLight plug-in.

[*] TWIG, or This Week in Google, is a very interesting podcast where host Leo Laporte, Gina Trapani and Jeff Jarvis discuss "everything" Google.

Related: Listen to Podcasts Quickly