Charter Communications will take a key step toward embracing over-the-top content, with plans to provide search results for content available on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu on Charter.net mixed in with video available directly from the MSO.
"We want to offer folks a comprehensive and easy-to-use experience for discovering all forms of content," said Mike McMahon, Charter's vice president of Web experience and application strategy. "We've widened the definition a bit perhaps compared with our industry peers."
Charter plans to launch the integrated search in late November. No money is changing hands between Charter and Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, according to McMahon. "From their perspective, we're a search engine, providing eyeballs," he said.
Charter.net will provide embedded playback of Hulu's free-to-consumer content, alongside its own authenticated video services which include ESPN3, HBO Go, Max Go, Epix and BTN2Go. The website also displays listings from Charter's linear TV and VOD services with information on how to access that content on TV.
For content on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus, Charter will provide a link. "Our view is that those were the leading sources," McMahon said. "We were interested in the ability to play back directly in a Web browser." That ruled out Apple's iTunes, which would need to launch a proprietary application, he added.
As for other over-the-top services, Charter may consider adding others into the search engine in the future, such as YouTube, McMahon said.
"As we integrate more forms of cable content, and introduce new devices... you won't have to go piecemeal to every site to do a search," he said. "It's an agnostic view of what's available to you."
Synacor, a provider of Web portal and authentication software, provided the integration to bring Netflix, Hulu and Amazon content into Charter.net's search index.
St. Louis-based Charter is scheduled to report third-quarter 2011 results Tuesday morning.