Google Inc. stepped into video search on Tuesday but with an initial focus on indexing the content of broadcast and satellite television.
The Mountain View, Calif., search company launched a test of video search through the Google Labs site, where it highlights new tools. The service draws results through an index of programming information and closed-captioning content from such networks as PBS, Fox News and C-SPAN.
So far, Google Video does not include video from the Web or provide a way to play back shows. The company retrieves content by recording the broadcasts of television programs.
"Theres a lot of high-quality information on television and a lot of it is not on the Web today," said John Piscitello, product manager for Google Video. "Googles mission is to connect people with all the information out there, and searching TV is natural next step."
Google began creating the index in December, and it has grown to about 2TB of data, Piscitello said. The index will continue to grow as more content sources are added.
He declined to specify the total number of TV sources included in the beta. Along with networks, though, they include the San Francisco Bay Area affiliates of ABC and NBC as well as local station KRON, according to the Google Video Web site.
Googles entry into video search follows its major competitor Yahoo Inc. Yahoo late on Monday expanded a beta of its own video search that focuses on indexing multimedia content from the Web. Startup Blinkx Inc. also recently introduced a service that transcribes video content to make it searchable.
Googles video results display as many as five still frames and five text excerpts from a program. Within the results page, users also can search within a specific show. Google does not provide the full text of a show.
But Google is working to expand the user interface for Google Video to eventually include playback of programs. In the preview, Google does display links to upcoming broadcasts of a program.
To add playback, Googles biggest hurdle is likely to be in navigating the copyright issues in the entertainment industry and convincing broadcasters that search does not threaten their business. Already, in its announcement of Google Video, the company is pitching the ability of search to increase viewership.
"It is a limited [interface] and we are working with the content owners to develop richer, fuller [interfaces]," Piscitello said. "Thats a process that is going to take time as there are many rights holders for this information."