On the subject of captioned programming on the Web, Closed Captioning Web suggests in a recent blog post that

More major network channels are setting up video players on their sites..and the good news is, the players show captions! More and more captioned programming is now available through Fox.com (read the review at Disabled in the Digital Age) and others. Plus there is a new online tv broadcaster, Hulu.com, that makes some captioned programming available.

These are promising developments, but much more needs to be done, of course. The writer agrees: “As great as this is, there are still networks that don’t provide online captioned programming. Ironically, one of them is the Disney channel.” As more and more providers incorporate “cc” functionality into their video players (e.g. Google, Fox, Hulu), or make more network programming available on the web with captions, or offer a way to integrate user-generated captions or “bubbles” into Web video (e.g. BubblePly, DotSub, Veotag, Viddler, Jumpcut), we need to be able to search across multiple sites and feeds to find captioned Web video content.

Google’s advanced video search page makes it easy to restrict searches to content with captions:  

A screenshot of Google's advanced search page with subtitle option highlighted.

Combining or aggregating Google with other Web video sites would allow users to zero in on captioned content across multiple sites. This is possible with RSS feeds. Using feeds from various services and content sources, we can search multiple indices or sites at once. Google’s captioned-only search feature, for example, can be exported as an RSS feed, and then that feed can be used as part of a massive, multi-feed search for captioned content across the web.

Yahoo Pipes makes it pretty easy to do this, at least when the task at hand is making an RSS feed out of Google’s captioned-only search feature:

A screenshot from Yahoo Pipes showing an RSS feed generated from a Google Video search.

In this screenshot from one of my own (admittedly very modest) pipe projects, the closed caption (or “cc”) parameter is turned on (so the results will only include cc videos), and the output is an RSS feed. The results from running this pipe will be no different than the results from searching Google directly for closed captioned videos. The difference is that by creating an RSS feed, we aren’t bound to the Google website but can put our search box wherever we want and, more importantly, combine it with other RSS feeds containing captioned content.  

Unfortunately, other video sites don’t make it easy to search for captioned content. Users can include “captioned” as a search term, but that tends to limit the results to videos with the search term in the title or description. Captioned content that is not identified in title, tag, or description will not be captured by a search of this type.

If we want to aggregate content from multiple video sharing and TV network sites, we need to be able to identify closed captioning in the search string (e.g. “cc=on”) and then output any search as an RSS feed.