One of SeeSaw’s fundamental flaws is a lack of broadcaster content, and any sale to Bebo’s owner won’t change that.
Earlier this week word leaked out that Criterion Capital Partners, a private equity firm that owns social network Bebo, is in talks to acquire TV catch-up aggregator SeeSaw from Arqiva (nma.co.uk 21 June 2011).
Although nothing is yet official, Arqiva is unlikely to snub a potential sale, whether it be to Bebo’s owner or any other company that wants to stump up the cash for a service it has pretty much given up on.
From Bebo’s point of view, acquiring a nice bit of kit like the technology that drives SeeSaw is a smart move. Despite the TV catch-up aggregator’s failure to embed its brand in people’s homes, no one has ever doubted the sophistication of the technology that drives it – the bones of which, after all, were the precursor to what was previously intended to back Project Kangaroo, the joint venture between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4.
Bebo has weathered its own challenges over the last year, prompting a drastic relaunch to recapture market share earlier this year (nma.co.uk 12 April 2011). It has also been working hard to increase its video content offering, and acquiring SeeSaw could only strengthen that (nma.co.uk 13 January 2011).
What it won’t do is resurrect SeeSaw into the online TV destination it was believed it could be when it launched. There are a mix of reasons for why it failed to stick in consumer’s minds; the lack of cross-promoting capabilities enjoyed by all the major broadcasters for their own services was a major factor. But the main issue was around exclusive content, or rather the lack of it.
Broadcasters are ruthless when it comes to their own syndication strategies, a method adopted to ensure their own survival in this fragmented landscape, but to the detriment of services like SeeSaw. They won’t commit their content to one platform or device, wanting to reach maximum eyeballs by spreading their content across as many platforms as possible, from tablets to web-connected TVs and games consoles.
Even the much-delayed YouView, although of huge importance to the broadcasters that have invested in it, hasn’t prevented them from launching web-connected TV apps and console apps. Instead it’s seen as a nice addition to the ecosystem of devices they want a presence on.
Bebo’s owner may have different plans for how it would use the service, but without buy-in from all the broadcasters, SeeSaw as we know it will cease to exist.