First, UK TV-on-demand website SeeSaw was set to close. Then we reported that it had a stay-of-execution on June 20th, the day it was supposed to close. Now it has been confirmed that SeeSaw has definitely been saved from extinction, the Guardian reports today.
As we reported last month, the takeover was led by Criterion Capital Partners, the same group that bought Bebo from AOL for $10m two years after AOL itself had acquired it for well over $800m.
The consortium of investors also include former Channel 4 Chief Executive Michael Jackson, and Dan Adler, a former Disney and Creative Artists Agency senior executive. The deal will see current owners, Arqiva, hand a 75% controlling stake over to the consortium in a deal thought to be worth around £10m. Arqiva will retain 25% of the company and a seat on the board.
Jackson also takes on the role of Chairman at SeeSaw, and he clearly believes that the SeeSaw model is one that can work. He said:
“We believe the vision that drove SeeSaw’s creation is even more viable today than when it was first conceived and we understand how it will continue to benefit and enhance the entire television ecosystem – from TV networks to viewers to advertisers.”
Criterion is planning to retain the services of most of the key staff members, including John Keeling who is the platform controller and Matt Rennie, Commercial Director. SeeSaw has around 30 staff and it will remain headquartered in London.
SeeSaw was born after Arqiva acquired the assets of what had been Project Kangaroo, a similar venture that had been operated by BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4. We first reported on SeeSaw when it entered its Beta trial back in January 2010, and we were early to review it when the Beta invites were out in early February. It ran its first TV ad later that month, and in November 2010 SeeSaw launched a ‘choose your own ad’ for the service.
In January this year, Arqiva said that it planned to find an investment partner for SeeSaw, and it was widely believed that it was looking to sell the service.
SeeSaw has gained a lot of fans in the UK, and the news that it’s set to stay open will be welcomed by many. The service attracts about 900,000 unique visitors a month, around 700,000 of which are based in the UK.
Adam Levin, who is head at Criterion, said:
“We are thrilled to bring SeeSaw into our portfolio, not just because of the industrial strength of its technology but because it is perfectly suited for the next wave of television viewing currently upon us.”