Google to do for TV what it did for web with new service

LONDON - Google is turning up the heat further on its search engine rivals with the launch of a new service that it promises will do the same for TV that it has already done for the web, by allowing people to find video-based content from the likes of PBS, Fox News and the NBA.

The news of the video search feature comes a week after start-up company Blinkx TV launched its search service, which searches video content from the BBC, Sky, ITN and US channels including ABC and NBC.

Google Video is at beta public testing stage, and enables users to search across the closed captioning content of television programmes that Google began indexing in December last year.

Users enter a query, such as "iPod", and will be shown a list of relevant television programmes with still images and text excerpts from the exact point in the programme where the phrase was spoken.

The search results will tell programme and episode information, including channel, date and time, and upcoming episode information. There are plans to increase the number of television channels and video content available, but no further information is available as yet.

Larry Page, Google's co-founder and president of products, said: "What Google did for the web, Google Video aims to do for television.

"This preview release demonstrates how searching television can work today. Users can search the content of TV programmes for anything, see relevant thumbnails, and discover where and when to watch matching television programs. We are working with content owners to improve this service by providing additional enhancements such as playback."

Because it is at the beta stage, Google Video does not include Google AdWords advertising or playback options.

At the same time, it is reported that Google is looking to launch a free telephone service allowing users to make calls via a broadband internet connection. The company would not comment on the speculation, or reports that the service will use technology provided by Skype.

Earlier today, it was reported the Page had made more than $50m (£26.7m) from the sale of Google shares because he achieved the top price for his stock, picking up between $197 and $205 for the 255,000 shares.

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