Google Video Search

Search engine Google sets sights on video (USA Today)

Internet search giant Google’s next target: video. Monday night, Google (GOOG) introduced a test site that searches closed-caption TV show transcripts ( What the site won’t let you do is locate specific video clips, even though some smaller video search engines offer that. Google says clips will come in the next version. Rival Yahoo (YHOO) countered Google’s Monday announcement by saying it would incorporate closed-caption transcripts at its test site by the end of February. Yahoo said it also will add searchable news video clips — currently unavailable. Google is working with transcripts from ABC, PBS, C-Span and Fox News.

As more video goes online, the ability to search for it is the next frontier, Internet search analysts say. “Wherever the information exists, we want to get it to the user,” says Google Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg. “Last year, we introduced tools to find it on the (computer) hard drive and in e-mail. Now, it’s video.”

Users of Google Video can search for a phrase — say, Bill Cosby discussing parenting — and find a link to PBS’ Tavis Smiley talk show. They will get a snippet of text, plus a visual from the show, a link to and listings of show air times.

Danny Sullivan, editor of the SearchEngineWatch online newsletter, thinks many Net surfers will be disappointed with Google’s service. That’s because, he says, they’ll be expecting links to video clips — what they can get now with smaller video search engines and America Online-owned Video clips of scripted TV shows aren’t available for searching because of copyright

Wizbang’s Paul had the same initial reaction to this as I did when I heard about it on C-SPAN radio this morning: “You can SEARCH the transcripts but not read them. The point being?????” Apparently, though, this is just an indexing function before the next phase of the operation.

The other thing that occured to me is that this could have a huge impact on bloggers and others that maintain relatively small sites. As we’ve found with celebrity sex tapes, hostage beheadings, and tsunami videos, search engines can already create absolutely huge spikes for sites hosting such videos. If the search functionality is improved, the sudden GoogleLanch could be simply massive in terms of added bandwidth charges and/or continued site functionality.

In the meantime, though, the ability to get near-instant transcripts from the Sunday morning talk shows and other such programming would be great. Of course, since the companies who make them are trying to charge outlandish prices for them, one suspects they’ll figure out a way not to participate in Google’s endeavor.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    Of course, if you have access to lexis-nexis, you can get transcripts pretty quickly anyway. And I’ve been told there’s a site out there run by one ofthe big three networks that has the transcripts of every news segment that runs within a 24-48 hour period after the segment runs. Not just transcripts, but shooting scripts.

    The person who told me this was amazed that the archive was so wide open.