Yesterday I paid a visit to the CastTV headquarters, and was amused to find the company recently moved into the Jumpcut space in the South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco, following Jumpcut shacking up with its new parent company, Yahoo. Pretty good evidence this little online video economy is moving fast!
Pre-launch CastTV invited us over for a preview of its very nice video search interface (one that it will make available to NewTeeVee readers who would like to join the soon-to-open private beta and leave their email addresses in the comments). The company is doing an excellent job of sorting content into buckets that make sense — search the name of a TV show and you’ll get links to free episodes, paid downloads, and video clips.
CastTV even tries to include plot-matching tools by crawling for text summaries on blogs, Wikipedia, and elsewhere, with the idea of landing you on the episode where you know what happened buy you don’t know the name. The site has a smooth overlaid player for viewing embeddable content without leaving the page, and extracts a link for you to email as well as code for you to embed, displaying them right within the search results.
It’s unclear to us how much of this is done manually, but CastTV certainly has a nicer interface than recently IPO-ed competitor blinkx’ Remote tool (at left). CastTV does not currently have any relationships with content owners to search their video, but rather crawls the web.
Since the video-on-demand market is fragmented and competitive, it’s hard for would-be buyers to know where to shop. This is the right place for search to come in. “We don’t think it’s that important for users to find who’s got the partnership with who to get their damn movie,” said Alex Vikati, co-founder and president of CastTV. She showed me a search for Black Hawk Down, which AOL was selling for $9.99, CinemaNow for $2.99, and Guba for $4.99.
CastTV, as we’ve written previously, has $3.1 million in funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Probably the biggest competition it faces is AOL-owned Truveo, which claims some 38 million monthly uniques across the properties it licenses video search to (which include Microsoft), and released a big upgrade yesterday. CastTV says it’s already getting into that market, with a licensing deal to provide video search for a “major media company.” Any sleuths out there who figure out which white label to peel off, let us know.