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Blinkx Inks TV Content Deal

Search technology provider Blinkx is madly inking television content deals, signaling a strategy to become the preferred front end for major media companies.

Internetnews.com has learned that Blinkx will form a content partnership with Reuters , the global news and financial information provider.

Reuters is expected to allow users on-demand access to thousands of hours of news content. Blinkx is also expected to index the content, then send users back to Reuters.com to actually consume the content, allowing Reuters to control, monitor and track usage.

Blinkx did not return a request for comment at press time.

"If you want to have access to content, you need to create the right kind of agreement," Blinkx co-founder Suranga Chandratillake told internetnews.com in a recent interview. If content is freely available on the Web, Blinkx will crawl and index it.

However, as his company pursues top global news organizations, he said, it must keep in mind that "they obviously have commercial content they want to control." News organizations' revenue models often include showing ads against content and branding the player or viewing environment, for example.

This deal-making approach allows Blinkx to avoid the kind of thorny intellectual property squabbles that blindsided Google recently.

In March, Agence France Presse sued Google for copyright infringement. The French news service complained that Google News' display of its headlines, photos and story leads reduced the value of its content for paying subscribers. Google responded by saying it would remove the agency and subscribing publications from its index.

The Reuters alliance follows Blinkx' March 21 announcement of a partnership with VerdictOnCars, an automotive information site based in London.

On March 14, the company announced that Blinkx TV would index entertainment, fashion, music and sports clips from The One Network, a Web site that features promotional content such as celebrity interviews and movie trailers. The One Network digital content will be available on-demand via clickable links in Blinkx TV search results.

The Reuters agreement is by far Blinkx' most significant since it announced Blinkx TV in December.

Video is a hotly contested and still evolving area of search. In December, AOL relaunched Singingfish, a free service that searches streaming media housed on Web servers. Yahoo soon offered a beta of Yahoo Video Search, which delivers links to the Web pages where video clips originate. Yahoo has content partnerships with Bloomberg News and the BBC.

Google's beta video search, launched in January, took a different approach, letting users search for keywords that appeared in recent television programs. These search results deliver information about a show's airtime, as well as a snippet of the transcript containing the keyword and a still from the video. It does not allow users to watch the video. Google content partners include PBS, the NBA, Fox News, and C-SPAN.

Blinkx's Chandratillake said his company takes a different approach to video search by not only indexing meta information about video content but also parsing the content, so that users can go directly to a relevant portion of the video.

Context Clustering Technology indexes content on the fly using automatic transcription technology, which transliterates content straight from the cable box or from video already stored on the Web. It then brings phonetic matching speech recognition technology to bear on it, identifying the main ideas in segments. He said this method provides better results than relying on closed captioning transcripts, as Google and Yahoo do.

Chandratillake said Blinkx' business model includes getting paid for sending searchers to premium or advertising content on a pay-for-performance basis; the company also is considering accepting paid listings in search results.

But Chandratillake said the company is betting its future on video, not on Web search, which already is dominated by the big three: Yahoo , Google and MSN.

"We're focusing on new types of content and new sources," he said. Blinkx search aims to be the entry point for such things as legal file-sharing networks, such as enabling search across multiple peer-to-peer networks.