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Like some other services, Truveo also pecks through a site’s metadata, contextual information supplied by the site’s owners or visitors about what can be found there. Most also look for any closed-captioning data provided by the video owner.

Blinkx software, on the other hand, actually plays any video or audio it encounters and pulls relevant data from the file itself. CEO Suranga Chandratillake says that for awhile, simply checking metadata and other page information worked well, since there wasn’t that much video around, and what was there was professionally done, with all the relevant information supplied. But now–with blogs, podcasts, and other forms of homegrown video, and an explosion of professional content  appearing online, it’s not enough to rely on these methods.

“Because it’s easy and cheap to create [video] content and put it online today, things get messy,” Chandratillake says. “As a result, you need a pretty dynamic search technology.”

Whether or not Truveo’s or Blinkx’s technology will help it compete with giants like Google and Yahoo is an open question. But it’s clear that the market for online video is expanding fast, largely because broadband penetration continues to grow, making it more feasible for people to watch bandwidth-intensive video clips. Some 70 percent of U.S. homes with Internet access will have broadband by the end of 2005, up from 55 percent at the end of 2004, according to Nielsen NetRatings. And data from Jupiter Research indicate that, as of June 2005, roughly 20 percent of all Web users in the United States watch online video at least once a month.

What’s more, that percentage will likely grow as more major networks embrace the Internet as a vehicle for their content. CNN.com now offers free video (it used to be a pay service), as does MSNBC. Meanwhile, Comedy Central airs healthy chunks of its most popular program, The Daily Show, online for free. And WB will premiere a new series this fall exclusively on Yahoo. Clearly, after years of avoiding the Internet, the big media companies are quickly, if judiciously, deploying video online.

So as more video content comes online, the importance of high-quality video search will grow rapidly–just as Google’s explosion came with a massive increase in the volume of pages on the Web.

Could an Internet version of TV Guide be far off–a service pointing Web users to popular video content, both time-sensitive and “evergreen” (stored) programming?

“Absolutely yes. You’ll see applications and guides that allow users to find video on the Web in unique and novel ways,” says Tuttle. “And this isn’t Buck Rogers-type stuff. This is all going to happen in the next year.”

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