This past Friday, Google announced its newest service the Google Video Store, which will let users rent or buy downloadable videos online, including classic and contemporary CBS television shows and NBA basketball games.
I spent a few moments playing around in the Google Video Store and found that for $1.99 I could rent (for 24 hours) recent episodes of popular TV series like "NCIS", "CSI", "Survivor", and "The Amazing Race". I even found episodes of older TV programs like "I Love Lucy" and "The Brady Bunch" which can be purchased for a similar fee.
The main Google Video page has rotating feature videos categorized under "popular" and "random" sections. Most of these samples were free to view and included the notorious Tom Cruise appearance on "Oprah Winfrey," a "biker dancing silly" and a documentary claiming to expose "the conspiracy between the Free Masons, U.S. presidents and the 9/11 terrorists attacks." Needless to say, there is a little something for everybody.
Google Video Store customers will make their payments with a credit card through Google's account system, similar to what is done with the Google AdWords advertising system and other Google services. As of now there doesn't appear to be any form of advertisement in the videos or on the view web pages, however, I would bet that it's only a matter of time before Google starts offering an advertising model of some sort.
AOL's Move Into Video
Meanwhile, America Online announced on Tuesday that it has acquired video search company Truveo, a purchase that comes at a time when many top Internet companies are jumping into the video-on-demand business. AOL declined to disclose what it paid for the 12-employee company, but the acquisition was said to be an all-cash transaction and was the largest acquisition AOL has made since paying $435 million for interactive marketing company Advertising.com in June 2004.
Video search technology generally relies on finding and parsing through text documents, but if you look at video sites, there is little text information available about the video and what the video is about. Truveo's Web crawler is said to have the ability to understand visual characteristics and return more accurate search results... thus making it a very powerful resource in Video Search.
As of now, there is no news from either AOL or Google on a video distribution deal, despite the $1 billion Google agreed to pay last month for a 5 percent interest in Time Warner's AOL unit. I do think that future collaborations will be introduced later as Google further develops its own video search and Video Store programs.
Clearly online video is a mass market phenomenon and therefore it's important for consumers to have the best means to find what they are looking for. It's obvious that video search is not up to the standards of text search, but I feel that it's only a matter of time before it will be... especially when you've got AOL, Google, and others leading the way.