SeeSaw, formerly the BBC’s Kangaroo, has now entered beta testing, with a full launch planned in the next few weeks. What is SeeSaw like to use, and how does it compare to the standard-bearers of Hulu, iPlayer, and 4oD?
SeeSaw is the service which has risen from the ashes of Project Kangaroo, an attempt to build a one-stop shop for all British TV catch-up services. And SeeSaw fulfills that original remit, drawing its content from the likes of the BBC, Channel 4, and Five.
Arqiva spent an estimated $8 million on the infrastructure for SeeSaw, and the company intends to turn a profit. That’s why although it’s currently a free, advertising-backed endeavor, the future will likely see paid-for options as well, possibly with international programming at its heart.
Arqiva has taken the minimalist approach to online video. The colors are basic, the interface easy to navigate, the menu and program options simple enough for even a child to understand. Which is a good thing, and owes much to both the style of the iPlayer and Hulu.
The homepage currently displays a rolling carousel of content at the top, with ‘Catch Up TV’, ‘What’s New’, and ‘All-Star Casts’ sub-menus completing the line up. The latter is part of the offering that will change according to current events. So, SeeSaw’s editors will offer playlists of content that may appeal for a particular reason at a given time.
You can choose one of the shows on the homepage or navigate via a topbar listing categories (such as Comedy and Sport) and Channels (currently only BBC, 4oD, and Five).
Clicking on a show brings up the video, details of the chosen program, and further episodes if applicable. Navigating the site is quick, although that could change when more people begin using it after the full launch.
Starting the video means the pre-roll ads begin. There are typically two or three on each show. The quality of the video is brilliant, much better than seen on the MSN Video Player, and the option to choose from ‘Low’, ‘Medium’, and ‘High’ bandwidth settings is welcome.
Watching content on the SeeSaw beta is a fine experience, but the problem is the content itself. The current offerings are a fraction of what you can get from the sources themselves, and there’s little reason (beyond the changing playlists) to choose SeeSaw over the source it’s drawing its content from.
SeeSaw has the ambition and the core components necessary to make it a great service. But as always content is key. Arqiva is no doubt busy behind the scenes forging new content deals to add to what is there already. But until they’re in place, SeeSaw is unnecessary in the big scheme of things.
Give it six months and a host of new content and then it may well be the service it promises to be.
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