Bebo owners secure SeeSaw
08.59 Europe/London, July 14, 2011 By Julian Clover

Arqiva’s struggling online TV platform SeeSaw has been saved following a deal with Bebo owner Criterion Capital Partners.

SeeSaw has been sold to a consortium of investors led by Criterion’s managing director Adam Levin, while transmission company Arqiva will retain a 25% stake. Industry veteran Michael Jackson, a former BBC and Channel 4 executive who has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, becomes SeeSaw’s new chairman and takes a stake in the company.

“The TV industries in the U.K. and abroad will continue to be reshaped in ways no one can quite predict, however it is clear that web-delivered programming will play a vital role in that transformation,” said Jackson. “The technology behind SeeSaw is world class and the group behind the bid has a great mix of entrepreneurial and industry experience.”

SeeSaw paid an estimated £8 million (€9.56 million) for the technology developed by Project Kangaroo that was broken up after the intervention of the Competition Commission broke up the BBC-ITV-Channel 4 venture.

“SeeSaw – and Project Kangaroo before it – is the product of many years of hard work and innovation from some of the best technical and programming minds in the entertainment industry. We are pleased to retain a sizeable stake in SeeSaw and optimistic for its future”, said Arqiva CEO John Cresswell.

The service launched in February 2010 with content from BBC Worldwide, Channel 4, Five, Shed Media and TalkbackThames. Its business model was a mix of advertising supported and subscription content.

However, it faced closure after an initial forlorn call for new investment, following last autumn’s strategic review conducted by Arriva.

The new owners plan to continue primary operations in London and most key staff members, including platform controller John Keeling, commercial director, Matt Rennie and director of product and technology Richard Dines will stay with the company.