The search and discovery opportunity for long form video

By January 12, 2009TV, Video

Last week I wrote about the success that long form content is enjoying online and posited that as this market starts to go mainstream there will be a requirement for new search and discovery tools. 

I have always thought that future search and discovery services will take one of two forms – a centralised portal where content is both discovered for and searched, e.g. everything ends up on Hulu – or a TV vertical search service. 

Contrary to many observers my hunch is that the latter is the more likely, and reading today about CBS Trying to Out-Hulu Hulu with TV.com and the complexity of Viacom’s online presence strengthens that feeling.  The following is an excerpt from the NewTeeVee CBS/Hulu post :

TV.com has a leg up on Hulu when it comes to CBS content, because TV.com already has Hulu content and Hulu has no reciprocal deal for CBS shows. But let’s not get too lost in those details. Parsing out which site has full episodes of which shows is an all-too complicated task for viewers and reviewers alike (see, for instance, our recent run-down of Viacom’s shows’ availability online). Networks and studios give different sites different deals — they have different selections of shows, different amounts of the most recent episodes, sometimes just clips instead of full episodes…yuck.

Moreover, I suspect the mess will get more complicated as more TV becomes available online and all of the major content owners try and muscle in on the action.  The only way through that complexity will be some kind of vertical search facility. 

Vertical search in TV will look different to other verticals because of the importance of social data in deciding what we want to watch.  On top of the core functionality of being able to search by the name of the programme I want to watch I am also likely to want to know what my friends have been watching and what my favourite pundits are recommending.  All of these need to work across content from different producers.

  • Boxee are doing a pretty good job of aggregating online TV and mixing in social features. I tried it out the other night and wrote about it here http://www.estatecreate.com/blog/?p=31

  • Thanks Henry – sounds very interesting. I'm not on Mac though, so can't check it out 🙂

  • I think they are alpha testing a windows version at the moment
    http://forum.boxee.tv/showthread.php?p=1

  • Thanks Henry. I wonder why this can’t be done in the browser?

    I’m not sure that scanning local media is a big part of the value prop.

  • You are implying that the social aggregation happens outside the hosting/streaming sites, no?

  • Yes Scott, I am. It seems to me there is too much fragmentation for it to happen on the sites.

    Nic Brisbourne
    Partner, DFJ Esprit
    Email: [email protected]
    Tel: 07990 567 993
    Blog: http://www.theequitykicker.com

  • You should be able to find a deal to fund like that.

  • Here's hoping 🙂

    I think this might also be a more geographically specific opportunity than most web plays

    Nic Brisbourne
    Partner, DFJ Esprit
    Email: [email protected]
    Tel: 07990 567 993
    Blog: http://www.theequitykicker.com

  • I agree – local media is not key, aggregating from the web is where the value is. Nice to be able to access any local media you may have from the same interface though.

    The application is probably too resource heavy to run in a browser, although I am sure down the line this will change with the emergence of initiatives such as http://code.google.com/p/nativeclient/

  • I don't see why that would be. Any of NY, LA, LON, or SF is viable.

  • Because having the best site in any given geography means having the best index of locally rights cleared content?

    Nic Brisbourne
    Partner, DFJ Esprit
    Email: [email protected]
    Tel: 07990 567 993
    Blog: http://www.theequitykicker.com

  • Indeed it is good news actually when all TV station can be watch online.

  • I am seeing a manifestation of your ideas about TV vertical search in current services such as http://www.narutowire.com and http://www.tioti.com. They are not search engines per say but they aggregate video content from across the Web. More importantly, they intelligently categorize content into season, episodes for example that massively reduce search costs for users.

  • Tioti.com has informed my thinking, and is an example of the sort of thing I'm describing. It is also a case study for the importance of getting the timing right as they were a bit ahead of their time IMHO

    http://www.narutowire.com is new on me. Tks for the pointer.

    Nic Brisbourne
    Partner, DFJ Esprit
    Email: [email protected]
    Tel: 07990 567 993
    Blog: http://www.theequitykicker.com

  • thanks for the post

  • Creative Hand PIcture

  • Good read. I have made a twitter post about this. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.

  • Good read. I have made a twitter post about this. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.