Internet TV search engine TVLinks exits stealth, content missing in action

What’s this, a European startup thinking global? TVLinks, an Internet TV guide and video search engine, exits stealth mode today, and says it wants to battle the big US search engines and TV listings sites.

It currently houses a database of over 30,000 movies, and 2,000 TV shows consisting of 80,000 episodes. In total it indexes more than 2,000 content provider websites, some of which it has formal partnerships with – US-centric Amazon VOD, Netflix and Google – while others are, presumably, being scraped or spidered via open APIs. The result is that a lot of content that shows up in search results is likely to be housed on their respective video sharing sites with or without the permission of copyright holders and/or geo-blocked.

All of the searches that I tried from my UK IP address, for example, drew a blank when I actually tried to view the video. I was sent off to YouTube (“this video isn’t available in your region”), Megavideo, where the video had clearly been removed, and various other sites with little success. This isn’t entirely the fault of TVLinks, of course, but reflects the current state of Internet TV: it’s fragmented, highly reliant on physical borders, and often a giant fudge of take-down notices. That said, these shortcomings aren’t stopping users utilizing TVLinks in their hunt for content, legitimate or otherwise.

Despite operating in “stealth mode”, TVLinks claims 4 million monthly visits and 20 million page views. The company is talking up its site as “one of the best destinations for discovering and viewing TV-shows and movies online”, citing features such as its “intuitive episode guide and scheduling system”, its video search engine, along with social networking.

Now, if that all sounds very Google TV, it’s because it is. In fact, TVLinks sees its future as a service available on Google’s platform and future devices, including set-top boxes, built on Android.

“We are the first European company to compete with venture funded American aggregators and video search engines. We aim to acquire a significant market share and use products such as Google TV and Android applications to facilitate our distribution to end users”, says Adrian Constantin, one of the founders of TVLinks.