Blog Post

TVGuide’s ‘Stingray’ Organizes Video Search

If you’re searching for video on the Web, odds you’re getting a lot of results you don’t need. For example: Try 855,000 results for The Office on Blinkx. Or try 3,536  results for The Daily Show on AOL Video. Or try 27,679 results for Heroes on Google Video. That’s a whole lotta videos, most of which aren’t exactly what you’re looking for. In that way, searching for video is sorta like asking your dog to fetch the New York Times from the driveway, and getting several thousand copies of US Weekly instead. Neat trick. Not useful. Stupid dog.

The problems with video search are, of course, manifold. The reasons cited most often are a lack of good metadata and inconsistent tag taxonomy. But these are technology solutions for what, at its root, is an editorial problem. Namely: Presentation.

Enter, which is currently testing in private beta a video search portal they’ve dubbed “Stingray.”  The site will enter public beta on April 16. And it already looks good.

While Google Video only indexes vids on Google or YouTube servers (too narrow) and Blinkx, Yahoo and AOL index the entire Web (too wide), Stingray indexes only about 65 sites, ranging from the major broadcast networks to iTunes and iFilm. But the main benefit of Stingray isn’t search, it’s organization.

Logging onto the main page, Stingray presents four main choices that instantly direct you to your most likely destinations — a top video, four comedy show picks, a featured show, and most popular videos. The nav bar allows you to search for videos, or browse for shows by top videos, top shows and movies, top celebrities, and top networks.

A quick browse through the nav bar shows 339 clips from, 168 clips from Brilliant but Canceled,  7,246 clips from BET, and 2,608 clips from CBS, among other “networks.”
The site also provides a “clip collector,” a widget that will allow you to save specific clips to your profile while browsing. RSS feeds, user ratings, sharing and tagging features are coming, too.
Unfortunately, the actual experience of watching the clips can be burdensome at times. Since all the clips exist on external sites, you’re directed off site (in a new tab or window) whenever you choose a video. While that may make the Viacoms of the world happy, it means that you’ll have to watch pre-roll ads (thanks, Motherload) or have your browser automatically resized (thanks, NBC).

The other caveat: Stingray only offers a smattering of user-generated content (SNL’s Lazy Sunday and Dick in a Box being two good examples). Personally, I’m fine with that. I expect TV Guide to let me know what’s going on with professional content, not amateur fare.

All in all, not a perfect experience. But given’s already impressive traffic, Stingray has a great chance to raise the bar for the video search (and browsing!) experience.

12 Responses to “TVGuide’s ‘Stingray’ Organizes Video Search”

  1. I think it is a great start, but I feel we (public) want or need to, access only the big guns sometimes. However I think it would be great as well if you could turn it on and off. What I mean is, if it is “on”, I get only mainstream content, but if I click a new button I get NO mainstream content. Wouldn’t that be cool? And of course we must be able to view videos.

  2. Steve Bryant

    Agreed. Especially if they keep the death-by-khaki color scheme. But there is a serious need for an editorial voice and editorial organization around online video. We need at least something like Wholphin magazine for the UGC.

  3. This is a good example of a company adjusting to the new media environment. TV Guide has always been (as its name suggests) a guide (or filter) for TV. I think the online world is in even more need of a filter — there is so much content, it can be overwhelming. And, with Apple TV just coming out, and Joost taking off — the selection of “over the top” video content is growing larger everyday (to use Shelly Palmer’s term.)

    I’m not sure TV Guide will be my chosen filter — but I think there is definitely a need for this kind of service.

    • Phil