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Arqiva seeks Dragon for SeeSaw

Net telly service needs cash

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Arqiva, the owner of the UK's terrestrial transmitter infrastructure and YouView consortium member, wants to sell some or all of SeeSaw, the online TV service it launched in February 2010.

The company today said SeeSaw "needs further investment to reach its full potential". Arqiva clearly doesn't feel it can provide the money itself, hence its scheme to seek an "investment partner" who can "enable a step-change in the development of the service in what is a very fast-moving environment".

A full sale isn't out of the question - Arqiva said it will look at "all investment options" for the business.

SeeSaw was formed from the ashes of Project Kangaroo, the combined video-on-demand platform founded in 2007 by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 but knocked on the head in July 2009 by the Competition Commission. Afterwards, Arqiva snapped up Kangaroo's technical assets.

Six months or so later, SeeSaw was launched.

Today, it offers a range of BBC, ITV, C4, Five, MTV and Universal content, some for free, some at a premium using a rental model. Much of the free content is paid for by advertising, though SeeSaw will let you watch it without breaks if you cough up £3 a month.

SeeSaw's biggest problem is that it's only available through a web browser. Hence the tie-in with YouView, the would-be UK IPTV platform standard, which it hopes will not only bring it before a bigger audience, but allow its customers to watch its content on a big screen.

The snag is that many of SeeSaw's content partners are also in YouView and will be delivering much of the material it shows themselves. SeeSaw might have become a one-stop shop for UK catch-up content, but it's YouView that will now take on that role.

That leaves SeeSaw either with no role at all, or a burning need to acquire content it can present that its fellow YouView companies can't. Since they undoubtedly have bigger budgets for such deals, the outlook isn't rosy.

That's not going to help Arqiva sell the service to investors. ®

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