Around this time last year, a relative 20 years my senior was asking me what I was writing about and I mentioned how I'd been collecting anecdotes and stats for what was becoming our Cutting the Video Cord series here. That series has documented how the Internet and new digital media options are displacing traditional video distribution channels. We've been exploring what that means for consumers, regulators and the media itself.
I asked this relative of mine if they spent any time watching their favorite shows, or even movies, online or through alternative means than just their cable or satellite subscription. He said he didn't because of the lack of an easy way to find all their favorite shows quickly. Specifically, he lamented the lack of a good "TV Guide" for online video. I explained to him that, for most of us 40 and under, our "TV Guide" was called "a search engine"! It's pretty easy to just pop in any show name or topic into your preferred search engine and then click on "Video" to see what you get back. Nonetheless, I had to concede that random searching for video wouldn't necessarily be the way everyone would want to go about it. And it wouldn't necessarily organize the results in way viewers would find useful--grouping things thematically by genre or offering the sort of related programming you might be interested in seeing.
Well, good news, such a service now exists. Katherine Boehret of the Wall Street Journal brought "Clicker.com" to my attention in her column last night, a terrific new (and free) video search service:
... Clicker [is] a free Web site that aims to be the TV Guide for all full episodes available to watch on the Web. It searches over 1,200 sources, so it can index some 400,000 episodes from 7,000 shows. Results include television programs as well as "Web originals," or shows that are native to the Internet and are of broadcast quality. Clicker either plays the video on its site or links you to where this content is shown on another hosting site--like NBC or Hulu. If a show isn't available online, Clicker tells you so you don't have to keep hunting all over for it.I played around with Clicker quite a bit last night and this morning and can safely say that I will be spending a lot of my free time there in coming months and years, as will a lot of other folks I suspect. It's a great way to search a broad array of websites for the very best video content on the Net. I'm a car nut and used Clicker to quickly pull up some of my favorite programs as well as several I had never heard of before. The player will allow you to fire up many of those videos right away, or at least direct you to the site where the content is housed to watch it there immediately. The playlist feature allows you to create a customized "TV Guide" for you and your own family. Very cool.
Anyway, when we add Clicker to all the other great online video services out there today, it's even harder for me to understand the amount of time Washington regulators and lawmakers spend obsessing about crusty old TV regulatory issues. It just doesn't make any sense.