Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Blinkx, the video search engine, is getting into video distribution. Today it will launch BBTV, a downloadable player that streams video from content partners using peer-to-peer technology.
The initial content lineup is rather spare: forty-odd independent movies from Dogwoof Productions and other videos from existing partners such as Young Holywood (celebrity videos), Kiplinger (financial videos), Shiny Media (fashion videos), ExpertVillage (how-to videos), TurnHere (travel videos), and Mavericks (surfing videos).
There are plenty of other P2P video players out there, including Joost, Veoh TV, Vuze, and Babelgum. None have exactly taken the world by storm when compared to video available through the browser. But you can do more inside these custom players, as you can with BBTV, and the viewing experience is much better.
Blinkx CEO Suranga Chandratillake gave me a demo last week. He positions BBTV as completely different than Joost:
What Joost tried to do from Day One is present itself as a true alternative to regular television. Can you actually do that? It is hard because TV is actually pretty good. If this will be of interest to the average person it has to offer something new and different.
Where he tries to be different is with the technology and the experience. With BBTV, you can stream full-length movies to your PC in decent quality. Using Blinkx’s speech-to-text technology, you can see a full transcript of any video and go to that exact part of the video by clicking on any word. “Speech becomes navigation,” says Suranga. You can also jump off to the regular Web by hitting different key strokes to, say, search for a person’s name on Wikipedia or look up something on IMDB.
But why not offer the service through a regular Web browser? He is actually agnostic:
If you can do it on the browser, you sacrifice certain levels of control and quality, but you get a platform that everybody uses. I don’t think we are wedded only to this experience. To make it fit seamlessly you need to package it. I would not be surprised if we implement this eventually in a browser.
That would make BBTV much better. Barring that, a Mac version would be nice.