Video Search Race Turns to Content Partners

Updated: News Analysis: Yahoo and Blinkx tap into more partnerships to help build bigger indexes of online video, while Google surfs more TV channels for its search effort.

In their attempts to make the content of digital video and television searchable, search engines are increasingly racing to form partnerships with content providers and to bolster their indexes of video content.

Yahoo Inc. joined the partnership race on Thursday as it made its video search engine generally available. The company announced a series of partnership with networks and movie studios such as Buena Vista Pictures, CBS News, MTV and Discovery Communications to feed video information to its index.

Meanwhile, search startup Blinkx Inc. on Monday will announce its ninth video partnership, this time with New York-based Transmission Films, an on-demand video service for independent films. Blinkx runs a video search service called blinkx.tv, which is based on its own transcriptions of videos.

And while not announcing specific partner deals, Google Inc. earlier this week did expand the number of channels being included in its video-search service. Google added 12 channels, including the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel and CNN.

All the moves point to a heightened race to collect and organize video, whether it is already on the Web or still traveling the airwaves.

"The way that this market is evolving, because the significant video is not all on the Web, is that one of the early success points will be who gets what relationships," said Allen Weiner, a research director at Gartner Inc.

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So far with its partnerships, Yahoo is accessing video that is already publicly available on the Web and has not formed exclusive search relationships, said Jeff Karnes, Yahoos director of media search.

One exception is with video coming from the Yahoo network of sites, where Yahoo has formed some exclusive relationships with such television producers as Mark Burnett Productions, which is behind the reality shows "The Apprentice" and "The Contender."

By working with the content providers, Yahoo is able to have video fed to its index and give the providers options about what thumbnail still-frame image would appear in search results, Karnes said

"The partnerships are important to us for our overall strategy of building a comprehensive index so that we become the place to go for video search on the Web," Karnes said.

Along with content partnerships, Yahoo increased the size of its video index by crawling the Web and tweaked its algorithms to improve relevancy as part of moving Yahoo Video out of beta. Karnes declined to give details about the size of the Yahoo Video index.

Yahoos partnering strategy is extending beyond major networks. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company said it is working with online companies such as Internet Broadcasting Systems Inc., iFilm Corp., the One Network Inc. and Stupid Videos. It also is indexing video from the nonprofit Internet Archive.

Next page: Pursuing premium content.