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Blinkx BBTV brings Web interactivity to TV, film

Blinkx is launching a free service called BBTV that enables you to watch full-screen, high-quality TV and movies, but interact with them like a Web site.

Imagine being able to watch movies or TV shows in high-quality, full-screen glory on your computer and being able to jump directly to a particular place in the video based on the transcript and click on a word in the transcript to pull up more information.

That's what Blinkx BBTV (Broadband TV) promises when it launches on Wednesday.

Blinkx is bringing the world of TV and DVD entertainment to the PC, but incorporating the interactivity of the Web to make it a richer experience. The service, which requires a small software download, is free of charge and free of ads, for now. Ads will come later, says Suranga Chandratillake, chief executive of Blinkx.

I could have used this service this weekend when I became completely obsessed with The Beales of Grey Gardens, a cinema verite film about Little Edie and Big Edie Beale, an eccentric mother and daughter who, despite being aristrocratic relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, ended up living in abject poverty with a gang of cats and raccoons in what was left of the family estate in East Hampton, N.Y.

If I had been watching the film via Blinkx BBTV I would have been able to quickly get more information about the cast and directors by clicking on an information button. And had I not known where East Hampton was I could have instantly located it on a Google map by clicking on a pop-up location tab.

Even more helpful would have been the ability to quickly search for a word in the speech track that automatically transcribes the content and goes directly to the spot in the film where those words were uttered. Little Edie was so mesmerizing and quotable that I found myself rewatching the scenes, but I was limited to searching for them by chapter on the DVD. Clicking on any word in the speech track also brings up a Google search, where I could have gotten quick answers to the many mysteries in the film.

Now the question is what kind of content will be available on Blinkx BBTV? Hard to say, but the company says it has about 250 content partners, including Dogwoof Pictures, a U.K. film distributor specializing in independent films.

The content is all high-quality, except for clips that were designed for viewing on the Web.

I'll definitely be trying this service out.

Blinkx BBTV offers transcripts, or speech tracks, of all content so that you can easily search for specific places in the story and get more information by clicking on the words. blinkx