TV Guide Readies 'Grid' for Online Video


Can TV Guide parlay its namesake brand into the world of broadband video? The online division of Gemstar-TV Guide International will test the idea starting April 16, when it plans to launch a site that provides links to professionally produced programming from broadcasters and cable networks.

Code-named Project Stingray, the TV Guide Online Video Guide indexes and provides summaries for video content on 55 Web sites, ranging from A&E Network’s Web site to Yahoo TV, and from Apple’s iTunes to VH1’s VSPOT.

So far, the guide has data on 72,000 clips. It won’t serve up any video itself. Instead, the ad-supported site will provide direct links to authorized streaming or downloadable video. “It’s the next generation of the listing grid,” TV Guide Online general manager Paul Greenberg said.

TV Guide, which started Project Stingray nine months ago, will have to fight for attention against a slew of video-search sites, many of which have been trawling for this kind of content for years.

Start with that bazillion-pound gorilla, Google: The Web-search colossus provides superfast results culled from a whopping 26.7 million clips on Google Video.

But TV Guide isn’t intending to scour the entire Web for every bit of weird user-generated content in cyberspace, Greenberg said. He positioned TV Guide Online Video Guide as a more editorially focused way to find well-known content from name-brand producers.

“We’re not scraping the whole Web,” he added. “The myth is that people are searching for user-generated content. There’s a market need we’re trying to fill -- people who are searching for professionally produced content. If you’re looking for that mainstream entertainment content on Google, it’s hard to find.”

For example, searching for American Idol on Google Video turns up 15,064 results, but about one-half of the top results are parodies of the reality TV show, not clips from the Fox-distributed program.

“We don’t think that’s what most people are looking for when they’re typing in American Idol,” Greenberg said.

That said, TV Guide Online Video Guide will include some user-generated content. But it will be “high-end” material, Greenberg said, like the famous Diet Coke and Mentos video. The site will also include links to online-only video sites, such as Brilliant But Cancelled, iVillage and MTV Networks’ IFILM.

“‘TV’ doesn’t mean the television set anymore,” Greenberg said.