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.