SnapStream Charts Trending Topics On The Tube

Snapstream, the company that makes a device that lets enterprises record thousands of hours of TV (from both satellite and digital cable sources) and search inside the recordings for keywords, has launched a trending topics site for TV. The site lets you see the hot words (those that are ascending in mentions) and cold words (those that are descending in mentions) on national television. And you can also enter couple of keywords (up to 5) into TV Trends and you’ll get a graph showing you the relative frequency of mentions of those words on mostly-news national programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, MSNBC and CNN.

Snapstream crawls closed-captioning text for programs that they record. They filter out local programming, sitcoms, and sports and then cleans-up, analyzes and indexes data for the trends site. When you graph a keyword, the site will give you a view of excerpts of stories at selected points along the curve and you can also filter the results by network. For example, you can chart trends of the mention of “Twitter” on CNN alone. TV Trends graphs can be embedded into a site or blog. Here’s a comparison between mentions of Twitter and Facebook over the past six months. You can see the spike in mentions in April, around the time of the Ashton Kutcher/CNN showdown.

I compared SnapStream’s trends to Google Trends and Twitter’s Trending Topics. SnapStream’s mentions differ because it tallies the most common mentioned words, not topics. So today, SnapStream’s top keywords mentioned include several references to the Holocaust Museum Shootings, including “the gunman,” “museum,” and “Holocaust.” Twitter and Google both listed the Holocaust Shootings as one trending topic. And of course, the content that is popular differs between the two mediums. For example, one of twitter’s Trending Topic’s is “#geekpickuplines.” And Google lists “Contessa Brewer,” the MSNBC host who recently had an on-air meltdown that was spread via YouTube. On the other hand, SnapStream lists “North Korea” and “Chrysler” as hot topics.

SnapStream’s site isn’t updated in real-time (it is updated every 3-4 hours), which puts its topics at a disadvantage to Twitter and Google’s topics, that are close to real-time. But Twitter’s Trending Topics has its disadvantages too and thus far, there isn’t much on the web that measures trending topics on national TV.