On April 16, Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. plans to launch a beta version of a video search tool for consumers to find clips and full episodes of TV shows online.
At launch, the TV Guide Online Video Guide will not host the content it tracks down--not even short preview clips. Instead, it will drive consumers to content-owner sites. This, however, could change over time.
"We have good relationships with many of the sites we'll be scraping, so previewing clips is most likely an option in the future," said Eileen Murphy, TV Guide's senior vice president for corporate communications.
Bypassing the countless clips of consumer-generated media flooding online these days, TV Guide will hone in on the professionally produced stuff--focusing on roughly 60 mainstream sites ranging from ABC and AOL TV, to ESPN and MTV.
The move comes less than a week after a venture announced between NBC Universal and News Corp. to distribute premium online video content over a network of sites estimated to reach 96% of all U.S. Internet users.
The as-yet-unnamed venture will offer full episodes from NBC's "30 Rock" and Fox's "Prison Break," along with films from each parent company's libraries and series from various cable networks under the NBCU and News Corp. umbrellas.
There is no shortage of Web video destinations, from the portals and YouTube to smaller outfits like Joost--a start-up from the founders of Kazaa and Skype, which just announced plans to offer ad-supported versions of a host of Viacom programs--and BitTorrent, a large peer-to-peer network that plans to start offering ad-supported TV programs by the end of the year.
Setting itself apart from the competition, TV Guide will be able to tie the "meta data" that its search tool will find surrounding online video to its decades-old database of show write-ups and listings, the company said. A mobile product is also in development.