TiVo Searches for an Internet Video Play

TiVo has acquired video search engine Zinc.tv, which claims to have an index spanning more than 1.1 million “TV-quality videos” -- including 179,430 TV series episodes and local news videos -- from across the Web. TiVo confirmed the acquisition, first reported by Light Reading Cable.

What’s the DVR company up to? TiVo reps didn’t shed any light on what it plans to do with Zinc.tv, which was developed by startup ZeeVee.

TiVo could be looking to use Zinc.tv as an on-ramp for bringing more over-the-top content to the TV, through its DVRs.

But Zinc.tv also may dovetail with TiVo’s still-in-stealth Pique social media project, which Multichannel News reported on two months ago (see TiVo Getting Social in Fit of 'Pique'?).

Pique promises to let users aggregate and share their favorite entertainment and news content from “one simple place.” The video search piece from Zinc.tv would fit right into that.

“Suddenly you find yourself in an enormous gallery with digital media in every corner,” the teaser website says. “You’re the curator… You’re the one who puts the word out.”

A TiVo insider suggested that Pique is an internal test project, but signs point to something more ambitious.

What is Pique's value-add? It’s not clear exactly how TiVo expects to stand out in the social TV space, given how crowded it already is -- players like Zeebox, Shazam, Viggle, TV Guide and Dijit just to name a few are already tilling this soil... not to mention, you know, Facebook and Twitter.

Meanwhile, TiVo appears to have bought only the search engine from ZeeVee, whose primary business is selling devices to distribute video over coax to commercial customers (after bagging its consumer-oriented multiroom-video product -- see ZeeVee: Nifty Idea, But Not EZ).

As Sam Biller (who says he’s a TiVo investor) pointed out in the Light Reading comments section, TiVo disclosed in its most recent 10-Q filing that on Oct. 24, 2012, it completed an acquisition for $5.3 million in cash. TiVo didn’t identify the asset it bought but Oct. 24 is the date when the new terms of service for Zinc.tv took effect.

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