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Dean Marsden

Online TV Catch Up Service SeeSaw.com to close after 16 months

14th Jun 2011 News, Industry News 3 minutes to read

SeeSaw TV LogoI remember being drawn into the buzz SeeSaw generated before its launch in February 2010. It had a long planning stage and was incredibly well deployed, so where has it gone wrong and how does the competition fair?

SeeSaw.com promised to bring together TV shows from a variety of producers. That’s great! Who doesn’t like the simplicity having everything in one place? A great idea on paper and focus groups loved it. It started out with just a selection of BBC, Channel 4 and Five shows with a plan to include selection of high profile US dramas in future following additional funding.

Adverts before and after the programmes provided some revenue streams to support the service; however a paid for service was also introduced to provide access to some extra programmes that required greater licensing costs. It is important to note that the premium service is no longer available in the run up to the closure and users will receive refunds

A statement from Arqiva

Official word from SeeSaw owners Arqiva is that the Video On Demand platform needed considerable further investment to continue which wasn’t available. “SeeSaw is an excellent service and has provided invaluable insight into the online TV market in the UK. But it no longer fits with the strategic direction in which we are taking Arqiva and requires considerable investment to succeed in an increasingly competitive market. “

“We have tried to find an investment partner, however this has not proved possible. We have therefore put SeeSaw staff on a 30-day consultation as we need to reach a conclusion by the end of our financial year on 30 June.”

So what went wrong?

In my opinion there were a number of factors to its unsuccessful:

  1. When it launched their already existed well polished VOD systems provided by the major TV channels on their own websites.
  2. They showed BBC shows with adverts! We can get it advert free on iPlayer.
  3. Not enough shows at launch. More were promised and some came, but they were available first on the channels own services.
  4. New customer base. Five TV and 4 On Demand have made a success on YouTube because it already receives huge volumes of traffic.
  5. Technology of modern TVs allow direct integration to catch up on demand services hosted by the channels.
  6. It was PC based only. We live in a post PC device era such as internet enabled TVs.
  7. Even TV advertising didn’t work. (and probably rinsed their budget)

The competition

Web TV is by no means dying. Hugely popular streaming service Netflix has now overtaken bit-torrent traffic to be the number one online video service in the US. This is great news for Hollywood and is likely to result in further support from production companies.

With better broadband penetration in UK than in the US the future for a successful VOD platform here is looking hopeful. It is reported that Lovefilm’s online viewing platform is growing at the same pace Netflix was a few years ago.

Hot on the heels of Lovefilm is blinkbox.com, which also offers movie and TV rentals. Most of the TV rentals on both platforms feature only TV shows from box sets, although blinkbox has a catch up TV section which is organised by recently aired episodes. Both are also trialling free, ad supported content although it looks as though currently blinkbox has more free content to choose from.

SeeSaw Closure

SeeSaw.com will shut its service down on Monday 20th June, read more about the official statement on SeeSaw’s blog. A nice ‘thank you’ from the SeeSaw team indicates it was a mutual decision and they’ve enjoyed working on the project.

What are your thoughts on the relatively short lived SeeSaw service? What VOD services do you use? Submit your comments below.

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