blinkx moves into telly with new set-top box deal
The web video search service blinkx has signed a deal with the digital TV software firm Miniweb that will put its search and interactive services on set-op boxes across the UK.
For blinkx, this deal is about integrating the diversity of web video and the functionality of web search with the ubiquity of the TV set, which is still, for most people in the UK, the centre of home entertainment. The blinkx service offers comprehensive video search that indexes everything from YouTube to the formal web TV services offered by major broadcasters, along with recommendation and personalisation features. The index stretches to something like 35m hours so far.
Miniweb currently supplies the white-label interactive software for Sky’s set-top boxes, though there’s no guarantee that this new deal will mean blinkx is on offer to that lucrative nine million-strong audience. Rather, this sets up blinkx for future partnerships with tailored elements of the blinkx service.
Most importantly - and the part that will attract the digital TV stations - is the potential here for interactive advertising because profiles of blinkx users can be used to target ads. It also means broadcasters could recommend specific catch-up TV shows to viewers based on their viewing context.
“This will allow web-like business models to emerge on TV, said Miniweb chief executive Andrew Carver, “which enables our business partners to benefit from valuable targeted advertising and revenues shares from TV viewer transactions.”
The most recent blinkx innovation was a one-click feature on their website that would offer a serendipitous mix of the latest news or the latest viral internet sensations. A few more clicks and you can tailor a mix of content based on keywords.
This new deal though - the latest in a sea of around 450 content and technology partnerships - marks a major move into a space that is still pretty open. While the web TV market is packed with competition - iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu, Joost, Babelgum, Current TV and dozens of other aggregator sites - there has been minimal crossover onto ‘serious’ telly, with just some modest integration of services like iPlayer and 4OD on Virgin Media, for example.
Integration of web services on digital TV has plenty of challenges - not least the battle of input design on remote control - but it’s wide open and hotting up.