Whether they come from home-movie buffs or Hollywood producers, Google wants to collect digital video files in order to push its video-search service beyond broadcast television.
Diverging from the video-search approaches of its competitors, Google Inc. on Wednesday began accepting video uploads directly from content owners. While none of the submissions will be immediately available in the Google Video service, Google officials confirmed that they plan to eventually let users search, preview, download and play the submitted video files.
Google co-founder Larry Page previewed the video submission program last week during a talk at the 2005 National Show, a cable industry trade show held in San Francisco.
Google Video launched in January. So far, the beta service has focused on indexing the closed-captioning content and metadata from select broadcast television programs.
Rather than focusing on video thats already available on the Web, Google instead is putting itself in the position of hosting digital video and making the files more broadly available to online consumers.
“Theres a lot of content offline that people cant find online,” said Jennifer Feikin, director of Google Video. “We saw hosting [videos] as a necessary step for some people to have their videos seen by the world.”
Feikin likened Googles video upload program to the Google Print service, through which Google works with publishers to make offline book content searchable. She stressed that Google Video remains in its early stages and that the company has not ruled out other approaches to organizing and indexing video.
Rival Yahoo Inc., for example, runs a video search engine that indexes video content from the Web. Yahoo also supports an extension to RSS, called Media RSS, which lets publishers feed online video to its engine.
Another early player in video search, startup Blinkx Inc., is focusing on transcribing video and audio feeds to make their full text searchable. On Monday, it announced a deal to make Live365 Inc.s Internet-radio content searchable through the Blinkx.tv service.
Googles video submission program, though, signals digital-media ambitions that stretch beyond traditional Web search.
As part of its plans, Google is allowing content owners to charge a fee for users to play back videos. Google, of Mountain View, Calif., will earn a small revenue share from those fees in order to cover costs, Feikin said.
Google also plans to provide a preview to the videos through Google Video, while also giving content owners some choice about the way a video is made available. Along with being able to charge a fee, content owners can add a URL to video files so that users are directed to their Web sites, according to a Google FAQ on the upload program.
The submitter must own the copyright to the video, and Google plans to review submissions. It is not accepting pornographic and obscene content.
To help in indexing the videos, Google allows content owners to include metadata, captions and transcripts with their submissions.
Google will accept video files in a range of formats, including QuickTime, Windows Media and RealVideo, though it prefers video files that are submitted as MPEG4 or MPEG2 files.
Feikin declined to provide details about how Google will offer playback of video, such as through a third-party player or an application it is developing. Google also didnt provide a time line for when uploaded videos would be live on the Google Video service.
“This is really just one step in a larger effort to be open and inclusive about what type of video were going to include,” she said. “We want to be able to work with content owners of all varieties and in all formats.”