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The 100-Tuner DVR That Lets You Search TV Content

It’ll cost you around $300,000 for a digital video recorder setup from Houston’s SnapStream Media that can record 100 channels at once and can run full-text searches across the recordings. This mega-DVR would be able to hold some 300,000 hours of TV programming.

Who would need such a crazy contraption?

No, it ain’t aimed at the consumer market. SnapStream’s DVR appliances, which index closed-captioning text, are aimed at businesses and organizations that need to search through recorded TV programming.

Type in “Obama,” for example, and the system shows you where the word appeared in, say, last night’s NBC Nightly News (assuming you’ve already recorded it). Then SnapStream lets you play back the video from a PC. You can also set up e-mail alerts using the same search parameters.

“Our competition is typically banks of TiVos,” CEO Rakesh Agrawal said - but even then, TiVo DVRs don’t provide the ability to search within programming, a feature he said is SnapStream’s real secret sauce.

SnapStream’s standard 4U-high appliance incorporates up to 10 tuners (i.e., it can record up to 10 channels simultaneously) and last month, the company added the ability to cluster multiple units together, according to Agrawal. The boxes are $3,000 per tuner, with a four-tuner starting configuration.

In its labs, SnapStream has clustered 10 of its Windows Server-based appliances together - resulting in that DVR that can record 100 channels at once and index all recorded content. And Agrawal says it could provide even more, although the biggest customer installation is 30-tuner system.

The 20-employee company’s customers include Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Colbert Report, which have begun using the system to quickly find sound bites from other TV shows.

Other SnapStream users include Comcast’s E!, Current TV, New York’s WABC, the City of New York and MLB Network, which has installed a four-tuner SnapStream system to “monitor the competitive landscape” and showcase marketing executions to clients.