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5/5/2005
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Yahoo Stokes Search Engine Rivalry By Propelling Video Search

Yahoo's engine searches both the Web and the content of its media partners and those companies that distribute video via Media Really Simple Syndication, a self-publishing specification that enables publishers to distribute audio and video to Web-content aggregators.

Yahoo Inc., which is racing against Google in offering better video-search capabilities, brought its service out of beta on Thursday and said it has added searchable content from CBS News, MTV and other media channels.

Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., first launched the service in December 2004, about a month before Google, Mountain View, Calif., debuted its TV video search service, which is still in beta. A major difference between the two services is that Yahoo offers video clips.

The Google Video service, on the other hand, returns still photos and a text excerpt at the point where the search phrase was spoken. Transcripts are also available.

Yahoo's video-clip offering reflects how the news and entertainment portal has done a better job at negotiating deals with content providers, particularly major media and movie companies, Charlene Li, analyst for Forrester Research, said. This is important because the more content a search engine can peruse, the more consumers it will attract.

"Yahoo has been more savvy in striking deals with content providers themselves," Li said. "Google is striking some deals, but not as many as Yahoo."

Yahoo's success is also tied to its media focus.

"They're a media company, and their roots are in media and entertainment," Li said. "Google's roots are in technology."

Yahoo's latest content deals included Buena Vista Pictures, a movie and TV producer owned by the Walt Disney Co.; CBS News; Country Music Television; Discovery Communications Inc., which produces the Discovery Channel; and music video and entertainment channels MTV and VH1.

Earlier this week, Google announced the addition of 12 more TV channels that it would search, including CNN and the Discovery Channel.

Yahoo developed its video search internally and through the acquisition of companies like Inktomi and AltaVista over the last several years. Besides searching the web, Yahoo's engine also searches the content of its media partners and those companies that distribute video via Media Really Simple Syndication. Media RSS is a self-publishing specification that enables publishers to distribute audio and video to web content aggregators.

For now, Yahoo is not making money directly from its video-search service.

"We're not currently applying any monetization model directly," Jeff Karnes, director of media search, said.

Video and audio search are not new to the Web. Other companies have been doing both since the late '90s. Examples of TV video search services include Blinkx.tv, SpeechBot from Hewlett-Packard Co., which uses speech-recognition in its search; and ShadowTV Inc., which offers a paid business service.

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