''How-to" may be the next hot niche in the world of online videos, with a Santa Monica startup company launching how-to video Web sites during the first three months of this year.

When it comes to most how-to searches, 95 percent are directed toward Web sites that provide only text, with the remaining 5 percent being video searches. And most of those are directed toward YouTube, according to Hitwise, a New York online audience research firm

But WonderHowTo.com among other companies diving into the niche believes the how-to video space is where it's at. WonderHowTo doesn't host videos, but functions as a search engine for them.

"Some things you just have to see to learn," said Stephen Chao, chief executive of WonderHowTo.

It's a sector with potential. Want to learn how to tie a tie, solve a Rubik's cube or learn to kiss passionately? About 1.8 million people viewed the how-to kiss video, with an equal number viewing the Rubik's cube video. More than 600,000 people clicked to learn how to tie a tie, according Hitwise stats.

Chao, a former executive with Fox Television who helped develop popular shows such as "America's Most Wanted" and "Cops," launched his online how-to video Internet site early this year with the help of venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners.

WonderHowTo online site traffic of merely 200,000 views a month may be small by comparison to online video behemoth YouTube, but Chao believes his business plan sets him apart from hosting sites like YouTube and MySpace.

Santa Monica-based WonderHowTo doesn't host videos. It links viewers to how-to videos on more than 400 topics, such as fitness, self-help, dancing, languages, auto repair and gardening. By acting purely as a how-to video search engine the company eliminates copyright infringement issues.

"Plus, we monitor the content to make sure that there is nothing offensive or pornographic in our index," Chao said. "That's important for advertisers."

Scripps Networks has a partnership with WonderHowTo, and the chain's networks, including Food, HGTV and DIY, have links on the site. Scripps handles advertising sales.

Chao said that he expects the company to begin generating profits from advertising with the next two years.

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With a perception that the mobile phone advertising and entertainment business might become the next California gold rush, more companies are reaching out to touch someone talented in Los Angeles.


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