Gladys Santiago

Hulu’s Captions Search has the Potential to Change Online Video Consumption

Posted in Media, Television by Gladys Santiago on December 26, 2009

Hulu recently introduced Captions Search, which, as implied, allows viewers to search for their favorite lines of any show that features closed-captioning. This latest addition to the streaming video site is a complete game-changer as it allows users to easily find very specific content and share it with others. As search results are pull up, a Heat Map is also displayed that visually distinguishes where the desired content is located and which parts of the video are most popular.

While Captions Search is still a work in progress, I envision the Heat Map developing into a sort of Google Trends feature that not only lists what shows are viewed most, but also what specific content struck a chord with viewers. Heat Map is not only a snapshot of what people are watching, it’s an insight into what they are engaged with. They are recalling certain words, lines or scenes and actively seeking to return to that content. The creation of Captions Search is proof that viewers are becoming more involved with programs. Hulu is encouraging analytical viewing and curiosity.

Captions Search may not be able to precisely answer why people find certain content memorable, but I think it provides the opportunity for social scientists and cultural researchers to make connections and create stories. Captions Search has only been available for a few days and already the discussion board lists a topic on utilizing the feature as a research tool for school reports. It’s only a matter of time before it evolves into a tool for advertisers to monitor campaigns or for brands to manage their reputation and public relations efforts. From what I can determine, Hulu’s Captions Search operates a lot like Critical Mention search platform, but it’s geared to the average viewer and emphasizes content spreadability.

Image via: Hulu

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