SeeSaw Debuts To Tap $62m Annual UK Online VOD Market

The UK’s SeeSaw video-on-demand service launches on Wednesday, initially as an online ad-supported service but with a second phase introduction of pay per view content, mainly from the U.S., to follow shortly.

SeeSaw’s 3,000+ hour library includes programming from broadcasters Channel 4, Five, and the commercial arm of the BBC but not ITV. Catch-up services Five on Demand and 4oD will also be accessible. Partnerships with U.S. studios have yet to be announced.

The commercial launch marks the start of the video aggregator’s strategy to tie up platform deals with all manner of devices from mobile phones to games consoles with the connected TV environment a prize goal.

“We are focussed on online launch at the moment but see ourselves as a TV service which happens to be launching online,” SeeSaw commercial director Matt Rennie told Streaming Media. “We are platform agnostic.”

A question remains over whether UK consumers are prepared to pay for a TV archive when they are used to ad-supported catch-up TV from its leading broadcasters.

“From talking to ad agencies ,the consensus is that the online premium TV VOD market in terms of ad revenue in the UK is worth £35-40 million ($62m) this year,” says Rennie. “iTunes has created a strong lead and we believe that people will pay for high quality content online.”

Asked whether he thought Hulu would still move into the UK market he replied, “Absolutely. We welcome the competition because it will help establish and grow the market and add value as a place for brands to advertise. It’s great we are out first but the market is only going to grow.”

“We’d love to do a deal with ITV,” Rennie added. “It has great content of high value.”

SeeSaw, which is owned by the transmission firm Arqiva, has also struck deals, brokered by distributor Digital Rights Group, with independent producer Talkback Thames and with indie producer Shed Media's distribution arm Outright. It has also signed 50 made-for-TV movies from U.S. producer RHI Entertainment.

The service will offer a dedicated sport section in conjunction with digital rights owner and distributor Perform. Perform will provide streaming services to SeeSaw from 80 Premier League and Football League clubs and a news-based package of football programming based around the 2010 World Cup.

The launch is backed with a $7m advertising campaign created by Fallon.

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