Posted by: Rob Hof on November 12, 2009
How do you find what to watch online? Sites for finding and watching video abound, from search engines such as Blinkx and Truveo to hosted video sites such as YouTube and Hulu.com. And of course there are conventional search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, the last of which just introduced a new video site.
But there’s nothing quite like a TV Guide for mainstream Web video—television shows and movies. (Note: see update below on TV Guide’s own offering.) That’s what Clicker hopes to create, and more.
The nearly one-year-old Los Angeles-based company launches its Web video programming guide today to the general public after two months in test mode. Clicker has organized more than 400,000 legally available full TV episodes from 1,200 sources around the Web. And it now will index 30,000 movies from Netflix’s Instant Streaming and Amazon.com’s video on demand, which both charge fees.
What Clicker has done more than other sites is organize the Web’s farflung offerings, using a structured database of listings rather like Wikipedia, Yelp, and the Amazon movie site IMDB.com do, into a format that makes it easier to find what kinds of video you’re looking for. As with Tivo, you can also set up season passes to shows. “It’s no longer about when something is on, it’s what’s on, wherever it is,” says Lanzone.
The company also hopes to spark a social element where people can share their favorites with friends on Facebook and Twitter. “That could be the thing that really makes it different,” says Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence.
Not least, Clicker, which has 30 employees, has some formidable backing. CEO Jim Lanzone ran the ASK search engine for six years until January 2008. Sling Media founder Blake Krikorian recently joined the board. Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital and Geoff Yang of Redpoint Ventures are investors in the $8 million round last year.
Lanzone says the goal is to build a big audience before bringing in advertising.
Update: TV Guide, the original, reminds me that it has its own Online Video Guide, which gets 21 million unique visitors a month. It also recently announced Digital Video Recorder-style features to select and organize their favorite TV shows.
More details from Clicker after the jump, starting with the basic features:
* Directory – a browseable taxonomy of all programs by title, category, popularity, airdate and network, organized in simple tree structure fashion.
* Search engine – direct navigation to a specific show or video.
* DVR – the Clicker Playlist lets users track which episodes of their favorite shows they’ve watched, set season passes for high-priority content, and receive alerts when new content becomes available.
* Wiki – allows fans to contribute information for a given show or episode.
* Entertainment Guide – from charts of most popular shows and episodes by category to editorially highlighted programs by the Clicker staff.
New features being launched today include:
* Improved DVR-like Playlist functionality, including new episode alerts and full “season passes.”
* Facebook Connect integration, so anyone can create a Clicker account with Facebook and/or tie their Clicker account to their Facebook profile.
* User-Generated Content – fans can contribute their own thoughts, observations, and facts about any show or episode.
* Search Within: The ability to restrict a search to topics within a specific program. For example, searching “Warren Buffett” within the show Charlie Rose specifically brings up those episodes where Buffett is interviewed.
* Related Search: Machine-learning based suggestions on related programs. For example, 30 Rock, The Office and Larry Sanders Show are offered as related suggestions for the show Seinfeld.