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A year ago today we wrote about how TV Guide was revamping its web site to add online video. With its index of television-related video from some 65 video sites, our reviewer Steve Bryant’s take was that “the main benefit of Stingray (the portal’s code name) isn’t search, it’s organization.”
To find out how the site has fared since then, we spoke with TV Guide Online general manager Paul Greenberg. He said TVGuide.com has more than doubled its unique visitors, to 6 million per month, with an average of 15 minutes spent on the site.
“We are actually making money on online video,” Greenberg said, though he declined to get any more specific other than to say that all the ad inventory on the site has been sold out since it launched, and it’s already sold out through the end of this year.
Right now TV Guide, which was bought by Macrovision for $2.8 billion last December, hosts and embeds clips and also links to video off-site. The online video guide updates its index with a fresh scrape of the web every hour. This makes a nice service for, say, a Lost blogger, who can bring in an RSS feed of all the fresh Lost-related video. But the experience could be massively improved if the content were available directly on TVGuide.com. The site is “close to entering partnerships with all the networks,” according to Greenberg.
Currently, the site continues to discriminate against user-generated and semi-professional content. “The key is not to clutter up our index with things that only a few people will watch,” said Greenberg. How do you decide what qualifies for your index, we asked — is there a certain popularity threshold? “It’s more of a gut editorial choice,” Greenberg replied.
What’s next? Community building and “Web 2.0 tools,” according to Greenberg, who said he’ll be outsourcing some of these projects to companies like LiveWorld.