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Searching for Online Video

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Although Google has been grabbing headlines with the announcement of its forthcoming Google Video Store, many other services let you search for and view many types of video online. These services allow customers to record, search, browse, download and purchase video content online.

We're not talking about stores selling you a DVD (like Amazon) but rather about suppliers of streamable content for online and offline viewing. In other words, find your content and watch it immediately online or save it (in some cases) for offline viewing on your desktop, laptop or portable device.

What follows is a selection of a few of these services and tools focusing primarily on services available in the United States.

Vongo
http://www.vongo.com

Vongo is a brand new service launched by the Starz Entertainment Group. The service offers unlimited access to over one thousand movies, many just out of theaters and many exclusives to Starz/Vongo.

Download and playback on Windows-based PCs, laptops, and some portable media devices, as well as on a TV. When movies are no longer available, they time out and are removed from the hard drive. New content is added each week.

Vongo costs $9.99/month. The price includes live streaming of the Starz movie channel. Additionally, some titles are available on a pay-per-view basis for $3.95. Current titles include The Incredibles, Hitch and National Treasure.

Starz also has a deal with Real Networks (Starz Ticket) that offers a rotating library (about 40 titles/week) of movies for downloading and offline viewing at $12.95/month. Unless you have a 300Kbps or higher bandwidth connection you cannot access the Starz Ticket service.

iTunes
http://www.itunes.com

Download video content to your computer and then transfer to your video-capable iPod. You'll find TV shows from ABC, NBC, USA Network, Sci-Fi Channel, and Disney Channel. Speaking of NBC, MSNBC offers free online access to The NBC Nightly News. Other shows like Meet the Press can be downloaded as podcasts. It's also worth noting that NBC on iTunes is bringing back classic shows like Adam-12 for download and viewing. iTunes also has video content from Pixar as well as music videos and movie trailers. This week they have also added 15-25 minute reviews of the 4 BCS College Football Games. All fee-based content on iTunes costs $1.99 each.

CinemaNow
http://www.cinemanow.com

This service (Windows only) allows you to rent both new and old films (over 2500) and other video content to view online or offline on a computer or television. New movies like Sin City rent for $3.99, and all other movies are $2.99. Both have a 24 hour viewing window. Search (the advanced interface offers many fields) or browse to find titles of interest. Movies are automatically made non-viewable 24 hours after they're first played. CinemaNow also offers a library for downloading to the Windows Mobile Portable Media Center, a small library of high-definition videos, and some movies for sale. To use CinemaNow you'll need to use your IE browser. A seven day free trial is available. CinemaNow is also testing a subscription-based model for some content.

MovieLink
http://www.movielink.com

MovieLink (Windows only; Internet Explorer required) is a service that I've used many times and without any problems. To use it, download a small client and then select from a collection of hundreds of movies for rental (prices start at $1.99 for a 24 hour viewing window. Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is listed as a new release and costs $3.95 for 24 hours from the time you click play. In many cases you can get another 24 hours of viewing time for $1.99 without having to download the film again. You can search or browse for titles. MovieLink permits you to view content on either Microsoft Media Player or Real Player. In addition to movies you'll find content from National Geographic, BBC, and Discovery Networks. MovieLink offers a 25% discount on all rentals for students and members of the military. Finally, MovieLink also has a beta program where they sell titles. Prices start at $8.99. Details here.

DIRECTV

Just announced is DIRECTTV's new DIRECTTV 2Go service for portable media players. "The DIRECTV 2Go service will allow DIRECTV customers to transfer programming content from their DIRECTV Plus DVR to a wide variety of portable media players."

TiVo

The popular digital video recording service announced in November that content recorded on your TiVo can be transferred to your iPod or Playstation Portable. This new service is expected to go live sometime this quarter. In 2005 TiVo announced a feature that allows TiVo recorded content to be transferred to a laptop or computer via a home network. TiVo also announced a deal last year that allows the actual recorder to be programmed remotely using Yahoo.

Also worth mentioning is an AOL beta I blogged about in November that delivers high quality video directly to your computer while your system is inactive. Download info here. Perhaps with their new deal with AOL, Google will also begin delivering content this way. Although it's not yet operating, you Google has made an announcement about what to expect in the future—see Google Video Store Opens for details.

Correction

In yesterday's SearchDay, I incorrectly linked to a chart that showed revenues rather than market capitalization. The paragraph should have read: Rashtchy is confident enough in his calculations to raise his one-year price target for Google's stock from $445 to $600, which would give Google a market cap of about $175 billion, making it eligible for a position in the top ten of the S&P 100, with approximately the same market capitalization as stalwarts Johnson & Johnson, AIG and Pfizer (though still less than Microsoft, at least at current prices.

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