Seesaw is Hulu lite, the minimalist design, focus on content and even the partner strategy –throughout there are lovely elements, but these are overshadowed by a feeling that the site lacks real personality or the values that will be needed to establish a brand. The lack of social functionality, the minimal approach to metadata, some poor copy writing and labelling and an insipid design – all lean towards a site that is a home for other brands rather than a strong brand in itself.
The content is good and I found plenty that I will be watching already. But the key will be how they build on this over the coming months and how they build that into the navigation. One of the perennial VOD dilemmas is how you structure your content, the answer is genre, but has SeeSaw gone down the channel brand route already?
The advertising works well, double pre-rolls and sponsorship show their commercial intentions from the start, technically the service is solid if unremarkable (though a lack of variable bitrates is odd), the UI is strong and intuitive, there are some really nice touches hidden away (specific VO for SeeSaw on the 4OD page by the same VO artist as the linear channel) and the promise of a premium service in coming months bodes well if they can secure the studio deals.
With Canvas and Hulu preparing for launch, and each of the major channels having a huge audience to drive to their own services – is the UK market big enough for an independent aggregator? The answer lies in their positioning strategy and their ability to execute that strategy. They’ll lose out on brand, so they must focus on establishing a strong and distinct position in the market. Buses, billboards and banners will not achieve that; they need to focus on strong partnerships that can bring multiple benefits including content and traffic.
SeeSaw has left me in two minds, the core of the service has impressed me but this feels more like a demo of the video capability rather than a fully functioning consumer site. I was probably one of the first Beta users in, so there is plenty of time for the diamond to be polished, and like the iPad I may not need it, but for some reason I really want it to work.
If Joost taught one thing it is that content is key to these services, with BBC Worldwide, Channel 4 and Five as launch partners you can’t fault the starting pedigree.