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Hulu Adds Search and Analytics

Hulu has added search and analytics to its product line up, according to the web streaming TV site's blog, significantly enhancing the site's usefulness to marketers.

The new beta feature, launched from Hulu Labs, is called Captions Search. It allows users to search the captions for thousands of videos across hundreds of shows - as well as from a new Captions tab on any show or video page with captions. The analytics will provide insight into which parts of each show are being viewed the most.

Ad Opportunities

Although not part of the offerings - yet - it is easy to imagine search advertising opportunities against these new features in the future. Another feature that could easily be tweaked into an ad buying opportunities is the new so-called "heat map" - a pop up graph that charts user interest through a show.

It can be used, Hulu said, to find a popular part of a show that everyone is talking about - say, a particular skit in Saturday Night Live. "For many videos, interest is fairly linear across a program, but for some shows, the pattern reveals intriguing spikes," according to its blog.

Upping the Ante

The new features up the ante in the quiet but growing war between online content and cable providers. The TV Everywhere initiatives, such as Comcast's Xfinity has been the cable companies' response. Hulu's new interactive features, it would appear, is the web's.

It's also possible that Hulu is hoping to take advantage of the clear interest search engines have in real time data, as illustrated by the recent deals inked with Twitter and Facebook.

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