Arqiva announced Friday it’s shutting down SeeSaw, the online video aggregator that sought to be the Hulu of the U.K. The shutdown comes just 16 months after the service launched to bring together video assets from U.K. broadcasters Channel 4 and IT, among others.
Arqiva’s ownership of the service always seemed like a strange fit: The technology provider acquired the rights to launch SeeSaw after the BBC, ITV and Channel Four failed to come to market with their Project Kangaroo initiative. SeeSaw launched in February 2010 with a limited amount of free, ad-supported programming available.
Unlike Hulu in the U.S., SeeSaw struggled to compete with online services launched by its own content partners. As Robert Andrews at paidContent:UK notes, those partners were more focused on their own brand initiatives than in helping SeeSaw succeed. The site also struggled to differentiate itself from online video behemoth YouTube, which had much of the same content licenses.
The demise of SeeSaw would possibly serve as a cautionary tale to other online video aggregators unable to differentiate themselves or create a critical mass of viewership, except that most of them have already gone under or have been acquired and turned into other things — like ad networks.
The big exceptions are YouTube, which was acquired for $1.65 billion by Google, and Hulu, which has thus far been pretty successful as a destination site for TV content on the web. But with Hulu’s content deals up for renewal and some doubt about how committed its content partners and stakeholders are to its success, it will be worth watching how many concessions it has to make to keep its ad-supported video service intact.