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AOL Gets New Content Partners For Video Search

America Online Inc. on Thursday said 13 new companies have agreed to contribute video feeds to its video-search engine Singingfish, including CBSNews.com, CNN and MarketWatch.
America Online Inc. on Thursday said 13 new companies have agreed to contribute video feeds to its video-search engine Singingfish, including CBSNews.com, CNN and MarektWatch.

Singingfish, a service of AOL, powers the video and audio search capabilities of AOLSearch.com, as well as for RealNetworks Inc., the Lycos web portal and other companies. It also has its own website at Singingfish.com.

Partnerships are important to video-search engines because the latter are able to work closely with the content providers in delivering high-quality streaming video that's updated as needed. Without the partnerships, Singingfish and its rivals depend on using spiders to crawl the web for content, which may, or may not, be available as a stream. In addition, updates can be missed and content lost if the provider changes its URL.

"We don't have a lot of control over the video stream, because we don't deal directly with the content producer," Karen Howe, vice president and general manager of the service, said.

Today, about 2 percent of Singingfish's content is available through partnerships, Howe said. The service delivers from 200,000 to 500,000 video streams a day.

The 13 new partners also include AtomFilms, Big-Boys.com, Healthology Inc., Hollywood.com, IFilm, Like Television, ManiaTV.com, The One Network, ROO Media and TotalVid. Among Singingfish's largest partners are MSNBC, NPR and Reuters.

Missing from the service's list are the big movie studios, such as Sony Pictures and Time Warner, which also owns Dulles, Va.-based, AOL.

Singingfish is hoping to eventually sign up the big studios, Howe said. The obstacles include getting the large companies to commit time and money to the development work required to integrate video streams into the search engine.

Nevertheless, Howe is confident more of the bigger players will come around.

"There's an attitudinal shift happening among content providers," Howe said. "They realize that having the content locked in a vault won't do them any good."

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