The video search engine Blinkx expanded its offerings today after signing a deal with AnyClip, another video search engine whose database is focused exclusively on movie clips. Through the new partnership with AnyClip, Blinkx was able to add tens of thousands of clips from various films to its searchable database. With the addition of these new movie clips, Blinkx now has over 35 million hours of video content on its site. This is big news in the video search engine business, and it sounds like a good partnershhip, but two questions: What is Blinkx? What is AnyClip?
First, the partnership. As most partnerships aspire to be, the new arrangement between Blinkx and AnyClip is mutually beneficial: AnyClip, who has licensing deals with several major studios, will reach a wider audience thanks to the Blinkx platform, and Blinkx gets to expand their database of video content, which, unlike AnyClip’s, is not focused exclusively on movies. The two companies will share revenue generated by Blinkx users viewing the clips, and this revenue will of course also be shared with the film studios who own the clips, according to TechCrunch.
This new agreement gave us the opportunity to look into both companies, which we’ve heard of, but haven’t used. Let’s start with Blinkx.
As we said, Blinkx has a far broader focus than AnyClip. Blinkx has video content that ranges over many areas, like sports, business, and music. Thanks to more than 720 media partnerships, which the company has arranged with such diverse sources as national broadcasters and private video libraries, Blinkx has the “world’s largest single index of rich media content on the Web, delivering more content from a broader range of sources than either Google or Yahoo!,” according to its website. Basically, the company pitches itself like this: Blinkx provides the best service for searching for videos, not only because of their vast collection of videos, but also because they are able to search this video content better than comparable services. Blinkx bolsters this claim by pointing to the technologies, like speech recognition and video analysis software, that they use to search their database of videos. Many of these technologies, by the way, are patented. If you like exactly what Blinkx does, only Blinkx can do it, at least for now.
They may bristle at the comparison, but to us Blinkx seems a lot like YouTube (and this isn’t meant to be an insult). Admittedly, though, our experience with the site is very limited. We performed a few searches on Blinkx, typing in queries like “Aaron Rodgers” and “Cat Stevens,” in response to which the site brought up a list of results – a good portion of which were taken from YouTube, although Blinkx pulls from many other sources as well – that you can arrange by relevance or date. (On YouTube, you can of course sort your results too, although you use a filter with far more options, enabling you to search for videos based on their length, the date they were posted, their ratings, and so on.) On Blinkx, you can also add videos to a playlist and email them by clicking a button, much like YouTube (although, again, YouTube seemingly offers more possibilities). But we’re getting off track. Our point isn’t to systemically compare Blinkx with YouTube – we haven’t done nearly enough investigating to perform such a comparison – but to introduce the unacquainted with another major video search engine that has been making headlines today.
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AnyClip, in contrast to both Blinkx and YouTube, occupies a far smaller niche, although the niche isn’t that small because the site promises “any moment, from any film.” That obviously isn’t true, but it’s a nice slogan just the same. AnyClip bills itself as a company that effectively breaks apart entire movies into clips that can easily be searched thanks to the advanced tags they add. You can search using lines of dialogue, character names, actors, and so on. In a phrase, they make movies more searchable.
To try to find that classic scene from Austin Powers in which Dr. Evil talks about his childhood in group therapy, we typed in “Dr. Evil my childhood was typical” into AnyClip’s search box, with “my childhood was typical” referring to a few words from the speech that Dr. Evil gives in this scene. Sure enough, AnyClip brought up the clip we were looking for as its first result. (Not to start another comparison, but it’s worth mentioning that YouTube did the same.) You can also search for a clip and filter the results to indicate that what you have typed into the search box is a movie, quote, actor, or even an object. This helps disambiguate two searches that are the same textually, but that seek different clips. For example, you might want to search for a movie with a quote that includes the words “the wedding planner,” but not for the movie of the same name. We couldn’t come up with any great uses for this during our time on the site, but it seems like a helpful function.
Another great advantage of AnyClip is that it actually licenses the movies it uses from the studios that produce them. (They have deals with Warner Bros. and Universal Studios, for example.) This means that they are using the clips legally, and also that the quality of the content on AnyClip is high – two things that definitely can’t always be said about YouTube. AnyClip also has an advantage in that it serves the interests of the powerful movie studios, which are so often at odds with providers of online videos. AnyClip gets more life (i.e., revenue) out of old films by re-monetizing the clips within them.
Both Blinkx and AnyClip offer sophisticated ways to search for videos, and while any company of this nature will struggle competing with the beast that is YouTube, perhaps the new partnership between the two companies will help them mount a successful, or at least respectable, challenge.
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