Web search giant Google is bringing US television content to its users via its video search engine, Google Video, which was launched in beta form today.

Google has indexed video and complete transcripts of thousands of US TV shows, which users will be able to search using the service. A search for a phrase will return an excerpt of a matching program transcript and a still TV image of exactly when the phrase was spoken, said John Piscitello, a product manager at Google.

Users will be able to search transcripts and view related TV images from content providers including the Public Broadcasting Service, the National Basketball Association, Fox News Networks LLC and C-SPAN, according to Google. The company started indexing the content of TV shows from December 2004.

Google Video is available at www.google.com/video.

The video search engine will open up television content to users, said Google. "The search service offers the ability to discover information that can't be found on the Web," said Piscitello. Google is already making the content of library books available in searchable format on the Web.

The search results also offer further TV program information, including episodic and channel information and future airings in the local area. "It's a search service that points to relevant TV shows in the local area," Piscitello said.

Based on the transcript search results, users can also view further information about a TV program. "We show more information from the show on the preview page - we show five stills and snippets from a show," Piscitello said. The ability to search for specific keywords within a program is also offered by Google Video.

To start off, the service will display still TV images. "Video playback is the obvious next step," Piscitello said, adding that he couldn't comment on the company's plans for Google Video's streaming video capabilities.