Video Search… How is it shaping up?

January 13, 2009

In the world of on demand content and the fragmented world of digital platforms, it is fairly important for search to work properly for Videos.  After simply just playing with the idea for quite sometime, some of the big names in the industry are really beginning to crack it.

YouTube has its own way of searching for video files that benefits from not only the tags but also google’s search intelligence.  TiVo just recently annoucned their new search function.  Fairly comprehensive though, it only allows you to search through data that sits “outside” of a video file. Not the most cutting edge way of video search, but given its TiVo the usage of this is likely to widerspread and at least it recognises the need for a must have function for the future of Video.

How does the search currently work in Video? Well the simplest way is to search for “tags” associated with a video file, or search for terms within the video file names. Now that is not very effective, as the tags and the name cant possibly fully describe whats inside a video file or in the content, can it? To offset this, some of the set-top box manufacturers including TiVo search through “closed captions” (subtitles for instance) or the Electronic Program Guide data alongside a video file to search for the contents of the video file. It would allow you to even search for scenes with famous quotes from the movies (The BigMac scene from Pulp Fiction for instance). Whilst very useful, its still a very 2008 way of searching for video, and a very cumbersome one that too.

Then there is Blinkx ( They have a pretty impressive video portal that actually searches through the contents of a video file, and delivers you the search results. For example you can look for a particular word and see how many video files are returned. A much better schema for search then “tags”. They seem to have been looking for opportunity in the area of direct to consumer, but in my opinion their biggest opportunity is in franchising their technology direct to businesses like TiVo.  Not sure if they are already doing it, but they are the next generation of search in video, and can really help move the game forward.

The more the amount of content available to watch digitally, the more the need for search. The good news is, that the solutions are here today. Only if the industry can push those forward.

4 Responses to “Video Search… How is it shaping up?”

  1. Julia Says:

    Hi –

    Thanks for your comment about blinkx! You’re right, we agree there’s a tremendous opportunity in powering video search for existing destinations – whether on the Web or on TV (like your Tivo example ). In fact, we already power video search for some of the biggest web destinations including Ask and Real ( but TV is still in its early days. We’re beginning to get more TV content ( so it’s just a matter of time!

  2. Alex Says:

    The Web 3.0 way is for the community to be able to tag video with their own content. The authority of each tag would be associated with the authority of the tagger.

    Then search would be able to rank the tags associated with video. Tags could include other video, images and links – as well as tag words and personal commentaries.

    This follows on from a post by Matt Davis at

  3. Azeem Says:

    Agreed. What most innovators forget is their innovation needs to move thru stages to reach mass appeal. A stand alone product today needs to become a feature of a product pretty soon.

    Look at Tivo; DVR is a feature of all products today. Sling; Transcoding will be a feature of many products in 09

    Video Search Algo needs to be h/w accelerated and Si partnerships are needed to propagate this to all TV solutions.

  4. I feel far more people will need to read this, incredibly good info.

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