Seeso poised to launch as NBCUniversal aims at online comedy fans

Comcast-owned NBCUniversal's first foray into subscription video on demand (SVOD) is set to launch this week with 2,000 hours of original comedy content available immediately to those who sign up for the $3.99 monthly service.

Seeso Ricketts LaneThe service marks a different strategy amid programmers' moves to provide over-the-top, on-demand video to viewers. While CBS, for example, is providing a subscription streaming service that offers most of its broadcast content to viewers, NBCU is targeting a specific genre – and its audience – with Seeso.

About 70 percent of NBC's late-night audience hunts for the network's programming via online video outlets like YouTube. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is a prime example of this, with promoted clips from the show going viral regularly -- at least one of the show's sketches has ranked among YouTube's top ten videos two years in a row, so far. Seeso will attempt to rope in these online viewers directly -- and ideally, gain direct revenues from them as well as those precious user metrics.

Tonight Show clips will feature on the service along with numerous original series. Episodes of Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane, The Cyanide & Happiness Show, The UCB Show, Dave & Ethan: Love Makers, Rory Scovel: The Charleston Special and Besser Breaks the Record will be available at launch, with new episodes each week.

NBCU announced the service in October, along with its initial slate of original content and clips from existing broadcast series like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. According to Evan Shapiro, executive vice president of NBCU Digital Enterprises, Seeso streams from an owned-and-operated online video platform that the company built from scratch.

And while Seeso was developed as a response to a millennial habit -- finding free content and clips online rather than paying for a cable subscription -- Shapiro, a veteran of IFC and the Sundance Channel, told The Seattle Times that the service isn't targeting a specific age demographic, but rather a "psychographic" of comedy fans.

Being relevant to online audiences will be a key measurement in the service's first year, he said to the Times. "If people aren't watching and talking about our content, that means we have failed."

For more:
- see this Seattle Times article

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Image: Screenshot from "Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane," courtesy of NBCUniversal.