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SeeSaw video-on-demand service to close

Arqiva fails to find a buyer, internal email reveals

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Arqiva is closing down its online video-on-demand service, SeeSaw.

SeeSaw, which was effectively put up for sale in January, will shut up shop at the end of June.

In an email sent to Arqiva staff today - and seen by Reg Hardware - company CEO John Cresswell said: "Despite varying levels of interest being shown [in SeeSaw], we have not received any firm commitment from any party."

SeeSaw was launched in February 2010, formed from the bones of Project Kangaroo, an ill-fated VoD platform development programme established in 2007 by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 but knocked on the head in July 2009 by the Competition Commission.

Arqiva, which owns and runs the UK's terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure, bought Kangaroo's assets and spent six months turning them into a workable VoD service - SeeSaw.

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 pay £3 a month.

SeeSaw closure notice

SeeSaw might have survived had YouView appeared by now. The would-be standard VoD platform, which is backed by Arqiva, was due to debut this year, but now won't be out - in boxes you can buy - until 2012.

YouView would have got SeeSaw onto TVs, not just the web, and thus to a potentially much larger audience. However, since many of SeeSaw's content providers are also YouView backers, YouView might have made SeeSaw redundant.

Possibly that's why Arqiva wanted rid of SeeSaw, but couldn't find, as Cresswell put it, "an investment partner or buyer who could help to take SeeSaw to the next stage in its growth and development".

He added: "We will continue to exhaust all possible avenues to find a buyer during the next month but, as a first step in closing the service, we have this week begun a formal consultation process by first discussing our proposal for closure with BECTU and the Group Employee Forum Broadcast and Media representatives and following this with briefing the SeeSaw team."

Technicolor dropped out of the YouView supporters club earlier this month. ®

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