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January 25, 2005

Google enters the video search arena & Yahoo adds video search tab

By Charlene Li

Google launched its entrée into video search tonight, which indexes current television closed captions. Do a search on “Johnny Carson” to see the updated coverage. In a separate announcement (hmmm….interesting timing) Yahoo! added a video search tab to its home page search options and also announced a partnership with TVEyes to index closed captioned content from three news sources.

A couple of thoughts on the burgeoning video search space:

- First, video search suffers from one fundamental problem – there’s a dearth of video content that people really care about on the Web. Yahoo! announced earlier this month that they would address this problem with 1) better search bots that would seek out available online videos (video files often “hide” where spiders can’t find them, such as behind Flash animations, in frames, or behind JavaScript); 2) their Media RSS standard that hopefully will encourage producers to include metatags that better describe the content; and 3) indexing closed captioning via partnerships like companies like TVEyes. While Yahoo! and Google are both eager to carve out relationships with Hollywood producers, the reality is it will take YEARS before the really good video content will be available online due to rights management and copyright issues. Remember – it took three years between the rise of Napster and the arrival of iTunes for digital music to make headway.

- Google has built their own technology to capture broadcasts (they set up their own rabbit ears to pull programming from local Bay Area stations) and index the video streams. But you can’t view the videos themselves! So why would Google bother with this? Note that Google provides a link to future episodes and a wry comment on the help page that video viewing is yet to come. My hunch is that this is a way to demonstrate to reluctant studio producers that video search could help them monetize their video content if they make it easily discoverable. Imagine Google partnering with DVR services like TiVo to do one-click recording of future episodes. Yet another is to enable video-on-demand ordering with your local cable provider, where users would pay-per-view to see the episode that aired two weeks ago. Or movie studios could sample a segment from a movie and allow online streaming of just that one section for a fee through partners like CinemaNow or Movielink.

- Google, Yahoo!, as well as other video search providers like Blinkx and Singingfish will require patience and staying power as video content makes its way online. But let’s think bigger and extend video search to include “desktop” search and the digital home. One of the key elements of the future digital home (Forrester’s report “The Battle For The Digital Home” is available only to subscribers) will be portals that help consumers find the content they want to play on their new home systems. Video search in the future will help find your baby’s second birthday party video, Moses parting the Red Sea from your copy of “The Ten Commandments”, and Nixon’s Checkers speech on the Web.

It's going to take a long time for video content -- and hence, video search -- to develop. So the reality is, we'll see a lot more of the one-upmanship over the next few years as giants like Google and Yahoo! battle each other and little David's like Blinkx and Singingfish try to do them just one better.

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Comments

Dave Forrester (no relation)

Humorously, if you search Google's tool for "Forrester" you get a bunch of clips from "The Bold and Beautiful." I never knew that technology analyst firms could be so dramatic! :-)

CJ

First, if you can't actually see any video, then Google isn't really searching video, are they? I've checked out Google tv, Yahoo, Singingfish and Blinkx. So far, Blinkx is the only one I am impressed with. I don't have to troll through an entire program, it takes me to the exact segment that I am looking for.

Paul

yeah i agree with you cj, blinkx is the best one out there. its really easy to use and the most comprehensive. it has like 22 channels in comparison with google who has around 8. blinkxTV also give you recorded video coverage, so taht youfeel as though you are really watching tv.

Charles

IF things continue to go as they are going, it won't be long before everything we watch on tv is going to be on the internet. Specially with the internet2 coming, where downloading a full dvd will take about 4 seconds (which blows my mind).

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