Beta invites to SeeSaw, the UK’s answer to America’s Hulu video on demand service, have just gone out and we’ve been having a play. How does it compare?
You can read some background on the site, in our post from last week.
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SeeSaw currently takes its catalogue from three sources: the BBC, Channel Four and Five. While the BBC iPlayer is all about catching up on the past week’s TV, SeeSaw provides a mix of recent shows and older classics.
The site is designed with a Hulu-esque minimalist grey background and lacks a certain sheen you might expect from a major new site launch. Featured shows can be browsed using a carlousel at the top of the screen while options further down the page highlight other content. Controls at the top allow you to browse the site’s catalogue by TV channel, genre or title.
The shows themselves have preroll ads. Familiar current UK ads from the likes of Sainsbury’s and Microsoft run for up to 30 seconds before the show starts.
Ads are even present on usually free-to-watch BBC content, as SeeSaw licenses its BBC shows from the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. It’s worth noting that you’ll only see BBC content from a few months ago and older – recent shows remain exclusive to the iPlayer.
What’s disappointing to see is that while SeeSaw is clearly inspired by Hulu there are none of the social features that make Hulu such an appealing proposition. You can’t embed videos elsewhere or easily post links using social networks direct from the site.
Criticisms aside, if you’re at a loose end and fancy watching an entire series of teen drama Skins or some classic 70s Doctor Who SeeSaw is the perfect site for you with a whole range of content available at your fingertips. It’s worth nothing that all Channel 4 content has been available for some time at the network’s 4od service.
SeeSaw is, of course, in the early stages of public beta testing so there’s time for the site’s graphic design and social features to improve. Additional content from other channels would be a boon too, although that may not be an easy thing to achieve. SeeSaw’s predecessor, Project Kangaroo, bit the dust because the UK’s Competition Commission thought it was ‘anti-competitive’ to have too much content from too many providers all in the same place.
UK-based readers can sign up forthe SeeSaw beta here.