Finding videos on the Internet is not nearly as easy to do as turning on a television set and flipping through the channels.
Web users are, for the most part, left to dig up videos on their own. There are thousands of niche video sites offering user-generated, studio-produced and pirated videos. Some are shorter clips lasting a few minutes, others are full-length shows.
OVGuide.com, a comprehensive search engine for more than 2,000 video sites, tries to make sense of it all. The company boasts that it's the closest thing the Web has to TV Guide.
The site is the brainchild of Dale Bock, a software engineer with a Ph.D. in computer science. "I just realized that there's no place where you can go to find videos, other than bookmarking them yourself as you came across them," said Bock, president of the company.
So that's what he did two years ago. He began bookmarking video sites, starting with those related to his own interests science, technology and history. Bock then aggregated them on the domain name OVGuide.com.
David Bohnett, who became a tech investor after selling Geocities to Yahoo for $3.5 billion in 1999, took over the company as chief executive and revamped the site last year.
Since then, traffic has ballooned, from an average of 1.4 million unique visitors a month to 12 million. This makes the site the third-fastest-growing Web property on the Internet, according to comScore, a Web tracking company.
OVGuide indexes top video sites by popularity and category, such as movies, anime and political shows in response to a growing demand for TV on computers. More than 20 percent of Americans watched some prime time television on the computer during the spring season, up from 6 percent in the fall of 2007, according a recent report by Integrated Media Measurement, a San Mateo research firm.
Some challenges lie ahead when it comes to cashing in on this viewership. Monetizing the 12 million monthly visitors would be easy if viewers were staying on the site to watch streaming media, said analyst Daniel Taylor at the Yankee Group. But since the site is a portal, the audience is just passing through. That makes it relatively difficult to build a revenue stream.
The site works like this:
When a user types in a video title, it shows a list of search results that appear based on vetting by OVGuide editors. Once the user clicks on one of the search results, the user leaves the site to watch the video somewhere else. This means ad revenue goes to other sites. OVGuide cashes in only for the duration of time the user is searching on the site.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.