The number of niche video streaming services continues to grow in the shadow of major players like Netflix, Amazon, HBO and Hulu. Today, NBCUniversal tossed its hat into the ring with the debut of “SeeSo,” an over-the-top, ad-free subscription based streaming service that will focus exclusively on comedy. The service, which will soon be available on the web, on mobile, and other connected devices and streaming media platforms, will cost $3.99 per month.
It will feature shows like “Saturday Night Live,” the U.S. and U.K. versions of “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” NBC’s late night shows with Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, “The Kids in the Hall,” “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” plus stand-up specials and over 20 original series.
With the currently airing NBC shows, SeeSo will include the complete collection of episodes as well as new episodes that will debut on the platform the following day. It will also have the entire series for a number of other popular shows, including “SNL,” “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” “The Mighty Boosh,” “The IT Crowd,” “Nathan Barley,” “The Young Ones,” and more.
Meanwhile, SeeSo will also curate a selection of other comedy programming, including a subscription service exclusive with the remastered HD cut of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” which arrives alongside other Python films, documentaries and specials.
To keep users engaged, SeeSo will offer new content every day, including new episodes of exclusive, originals every week, as well as live-streamed stand-up every month and a few movies per month.
However, as some of SeeSo’s content is today available on other services – like NBC.com, Netflix or Hulu, for example – the bigger bet here is on original programming. Like a number of streaming services, the goal is to develop exclusive series that can’t be found elsewhere in order to drive subscriptions.
The current original line-up includes over 20 exclusive shows. Some of the more notable ones are as follows (per the official announcement):
- “HarmonQuest,” a comedy epic, combining live action and animation from “Community” and “Rick and Morty” creator Dan Harmon
- “The UCB Show” from hosts, creators, and Upright Citizens Brigade founders Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and Matt Besser
- “Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” a reality show spoof from executive producers Scott Aukerman, Ben Garant, Tom Lennon and Kulap Vilaysack
- “Thingstarter,” a workplace comedy
- “Dave & Ethan: Lovemakers,” a dating game improv show both from Broadway Video’s Above Average Productions
- “Night Train with Wyatt Cenac,” a stand-up series
- “Take My Wife,”a stand-up series from creators and hosts Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher
- “Hidden America with Johan Ray,” a travel show parody
- “Live From The Barrel House,” a comedy series
- “The Comedy Show Show,” from Rooftop Comedy
- “Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane,” a musical comedy about mismatched housemates – one human, one puppet
- “Flowers,” a dark family comedy starring Julian Barratt and Olivia Colman
The service, which had been reported to be in the works for some time, also includes a number of features designed for the over-the-top streaming audience it aims to attract, like an “autoplay function and a “hunt while you watch” feature that let you watch video while looking for what to watch next.
In addition, the service will offer a subset of content for free (10-15%), in an effort to convert users to paying subscribers – similar to Hulu’s strategy.
However, SeeSo doesn’t see itself as a direct competitor to the larger streaming services. Instead, it’s pitching itself as a complementary offering.
“Big streaming services have created a paradox of choice – they’re great if you know exactly what to watch, but if you aren’t in the middle of a binge, the search can be near endless,” Evan Shapiro, Executive Vice President of NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, noted in a statement. “By focusing on a specific, yet large niche, and providing a curated experience, we can help viewers find good stuff they might not or cannot find,” he added.
SeeSo has already made a couple of notable hires, including SVP and Head of Marketing Patricia (Parra) Hadden, previously of Shazam, Hulu, and OUYA; and SVP of Digital Enterprises Ben McLean, previously of Xbox Entertainment Studios, Pivot TV, Netflix, and AMC Networks.
Too Many Niche Services?
That being said, it’s unclear at this point how many niche streaming offerings the market can sustain.
Outside of the big players, traditional TV providers are debuting their own services, too, like Comcast’s Stream and its video app Watchable, Dish’s Sling TV, Verizon’s [disclosure: TechCrunch owner] Go90. Then there are other newcomers and startups like Pluto TV, Vessel, and Fullscreen’s forthcoming service. Networks have their own over-the-top services, as well, like HBO NOW, Showtime, Lifetime’s Movie Club, or Nick’s Noggin, for instance. On top of that, there are video services like YouTube, VEVO, Vimeo, Vine, Periscope and more that are fighting for eyeballs, too.
While SeeSo was detailed today, the new service itself won’t actually launch into beta until December, and then will be available to the public in January 2016. In the meantime, interested parties can sign up to be notified when it goes live by providing their email on the SeeSo homepage.