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In the catch-up TV aggregation stakes, Arqiva’s SeeSaw has been struggling against broadcasters’ own offerings and YouTube.
The website has long offered a volume of conventional TV ads that seems excessive for the web screen, making viewers watch up to two minutes of pre-rolls before a chosen show begins.
Now, from Thursday, it’s letting viewers switch off the ads by paying £2.99 a month, or pick their own ads.
The new payment feature, “Non-Stop”, is a subscription offering that might, initially, seem like logically Spotify’s split model in music (free with ads, paid minus ads).
But, whilst SeeSaw’s ads are far more annoying than Spotify’s, users may be less inclined to pay. Truth is, there are now several places online viewers can get their TV VOD and, though SeeSaw’s pre-rolls are damned annoying, the SeeSaw experience is not so great to warrant paying for it versus simply going elsewhere, like 4oD, Demand Five or YouTube.
Still, it’s good nowadays to exhibit a mix of commercial models. As well as the free-to-view shows, SeeSaw also does rentals on some of its repertoire. The paid methods likely involves a different commercial split with broadcasters. SeeSaw says its addition was “driven by consumer research”.
It’s also introducing Ad Selector, a feature “which lets SeeSaw viewers select the ad they’d like to watch before the start of their show”.
To many consumers, that’s about an appealing a prospect as choosing the method of their own execution. Whilst viewers are well used to enduring ads that fund free TV on their living room LCD, excessive pre-rolls on the desktop are kryptonite to web viewers, who care less about different ad methods than do ad salespeople.
SeeSaw says it has “over four million unique users”, though not in which timeframe. Its roster includes 4oD, Demand Five, BBCWW, Universal and MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA), though not ITV (LSE: ITV), BBC or others.