NBCUniversal has joined the increasingly crowded field of streaming service providers with a new service it’s calling Seeso.
The service, which will be available in January and will cost $3.99, is focused on comedy content, drawn from NBCUniversal’s vast archive of programming going back decades, as well as 20 streaming-only original weekly shows.
For example, the network will offer episodes from the 1970s-era TV show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” archival and new “Saturday Night Live” episodes, as well as a new series featuring stand-up and sketch comedy called “The UCB Show,” hosted by Amy Poehler and others.
It is the latest attempt to draw in so-called cord-cutters and cord-nevers, who are increasingly eschewing traditional television. This fall, TV ratings for new and returning programming are down 11.5 percent among men 18-34 years old and 6.5 percent among women of the same age range.
“If this group leaves the fold,” said digital media analyst Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia, “[networks] may never connect with them.”
There are now 97 various streaming video-on-demand services vying for viewers’ attention and dollars, according to Erik Brannon of IHS, who keeps count. “We’re talking about everything from a proliferation of subscription exercise content, to Sesame Street Go” said Brannon.”You’ve got all the sport-related content, NBA League Pass, UFC Fight Pass.”
The streaming services provide an important new revenue stream, said James McQuivey of Forrester Research, but they also provide data, which broadcasters need in order to better understand younger audiences.
McQuivey said NBC, and its parent Comcast, want to build a direct relationship with viewers — something network TV has not done before. “Collecting data tells us what video to serve them next, so that we can keep them watching,” as well as what shows to create in the future, he said.
Netflix employs insights learned from its viewer data when deciding on what original programming to produce.
McQuivey said that in an already crowded market, NBCUniversal has an uphill climb to convince viewers to sign up for yet another subscription service, especially one that is limited only to NBC’s own content. “It’s a tougher sell, but it’s probably the one shot they have to make this work.” Because, he said, NBC’s comedy archive is a compelling asset that viewers might be willing to pay for.
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