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blinkx Aims to Change Online Video World

blinkx aims to take on YouTube, Hulu and Veoh.

Some may have never heard of the San Francisco-based company, but in just a few short years it has become the single biggest search engine for online video. In August, blinkx joined Yahoo!, CNN, YouTube and others on Nielsen VideoCensus’ top 10 list of most popular online video sites.

“Most video sites on the Web aren’t search engines,” said company founder and CEO Suranga Chandratillake. “You’re only going to get results on those sites. We’re the starting point for everyone else’s content.

“The analogy we use is that we’re the remote control for Web video.”

Since it launched in 2004, blinkx has garnered more than 530 media partners, from the big (ESPN) to the small (HealthGuru.com). They include national and international broadcasters, private video libraries and commercial media companies. Thanks to those partnerships, and unique search technology, blinkx offers one-stop search access to more than 35 million hours of online video.

The technology blinkx uses was conceived of at Cambridge University and went through $150 million and a dozen years of research and development. Instead of text-based searches that may only look through titles or descriptions of online video, blinkx uses a combination of speech recognition and video analysis software to find what a user is looking for. Type up a quote from a movie, and if video exists on the Web with that clip, blinkx will find it. Type in a comment from a football coach’s postgame conference and blinkx will bring it up the video.

On its own site, www.blinkx.com, users can also create video playlists and build customized “video walls” for social networking sites. Behind the scenes blinkx is providing the search capabilities for Ask.com, RealPlayer, MSN and Lycos.

blinkx also has a revenue-sharing program called AdHoc, which allows sites to link adds to videos. That’s where the money is, at least for now, Chandratillake said.

“Most people primarily are interested in free content,” he said. “Over time we believe there will be an interesting market for pay-per-view content.

Next, blinkx will expand into connected TVs and mobile devices, Chandratillake said. “For us, it’s going to be more of the same, growing our service,” he said.