Farewell Project Kangaroo – SeeSaw to close June 20th

UK-based on demand TV site SeeSaw has announced that it’s to close on the 20th of June. According to the site’s blog, parent company Arqiva has decided that it can no longer support SeeSaw. The closure – unless the technology is sold on – finally brings to an end a pretty long saga that started a few years ago.

SeeSaw first saw light of day as a proposal for a video on demand portal jointly owned by the UK’s main broadcasters, with backing from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, in 2007. The plan was to offer some of their content via the service, alongside advertising to help fund it.

Late 2008 saw the Competition Commission pull the rug from under that plan, with rival broadcasters Virgin Media and Sky complaining (as they so often do) about unfair competition. The technology was sold on to Arqiva, while the BBC went on to plan Project Canvas, now known as YouView.

Arquiva used the Kangaroo technology to launch SeeSaw last year, which offered a mixture of premium and free content – you could find, for example, some free episodes of classic Doctor Who on the site, alongside paid content, at prices of around £1.19 per episode, with whole series also available to rent.

SeeSaw offered an ‘ad free’ subscription option too, and seemed to be quite aggressively discounting, announcing lots of special offers and deals on Twitter. The writing has probably been on the wall for a while, however – earlier this year it was reported on RegHardware that Arqiva was looking for a partner to help provide the necessary fund to develop the service further – and judging by today’s announcement, that’s not happened.

With competing services like BlinkBox also offering similar content – and exactly the same free classic Doctor Who episodes, for instance – SeeSaw probably did have difficulty attracting customers, and perhaps wasn’t helped by the delays with YouView; available largely only through a browser, it wasn’t the slickest of interfaces. While the service did become available via Boxee earlier this year, as I noted in my review for RegHardware, the experience was not a smooth one.

Video on demand, I suspect, is something that most people are far more likely to use if they can access it easily on a TV, rather than hunched over their computer – especially if they’re paying for it. And without that, SeeSaw really didn’t have much to differentiate itself from other sites.

If you have a SeeSaw subscription, you shouldn’t be left out of pocket; the site has a list of questions about the closure, explaining how the closure will happen.

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