Google launches TV search feature

Google is using its popular internet search technology to find information and images broadcast on US television, continuing a recent effort to extend its reach beyond the web.

Google is using its popular internet search technology to find information and images broadcast on US television, continuing a recent effort to extend its reach beyond the web.

The Mountain View, California-based company plans to introduce the new video service today. It will be operated separately from the search engine offered on Google’s home page.

The feature pinpoints content previously aired on a variety of television networks by scanning through the closed caption text that many programmers offer.

Google’s service, which began storing information last month, includes programming from ABC, PBS, Fox News and C-SPAN.

“We think TV is a big part of people’s lives,” said Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s vice president of product management. “Ultimately, we would like to have all TV programming indexed.”

But search engine analyst Charlene Li of Forrester Research said Google’s latest innovation was likely to disappoint many people because it did not provide a direct link to watch the previously-broadcast programming.

Google is instead displaying up to five still video images from the indexed television programmes, as well as snippets from the show’s narrative. The search results also will provide a breakdown on when the programme aired and when an episode is due to be repeated. Local programming information will be available for those who provide a ZIP postal code.

Rival search engine Yahoo has also been tinkering with a product that finds video available for webcasts. Hoping to counter Google’s initiative, Yahoo planned to step up the promotion of its video search tools today.

If the Google and Yahoo services attract a following, more television programmers may be compelled to provide better online access to their content, Li said.

“Video search is going to be a very long-term play,” she said.

The TV product represents Google’s latest attempt to get a better handle on the reams of information not stored on web pages. The company recently set out to scan millions of books from several major libraries into its search engine and is offering a program that finds material stored on computer hard drives.

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