Criterion saves Arqiva's SeeSaw service

Beleaguered TV streaming service SeeSaw has been given a last minute reprieve in the form of a buyout organised by Criterion Capital Partners.

SeeSaw was born from the failed Project Kangaroo, an attempt to create a one-stop video on demand portal featuring content from the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4. Building on the three company's existing services - iPlayer, ITV Player, and 4OD respectively - Project Kangaroo was predicted to be a huge success.

Sadly, that success never materialised. Commercial rivals claimed that the BBC - as a publicly-funded broadcaster - had no right to team up with other companies in this manner, and the whole concept was scrapped.

Rather than give up entirely, however, the group behind Project Kangaroo sold its assets to Arqiva for £8 million. Rebranding the service as SeeSaw, the site went into beta early last year and has grown to the point where it commands almost a million unique visitors each month.

Despite its impressive visitor figures, the money hasn't been pouring in. Having failed to see a return on its investment, Arqiva was due to close SeeSaw down until it negotiated a deal from Criterion Capital Partners which sees it give up a 75 per cent stake in the company.

While firm details of the investment group behind the bid aren't yet known, it is believed to include former Disney executive Dan Adler and former Channel 4 chief executive Michael Jackson.

Speaking to The Guardian, Jackson claimed that Internet-streamed content is to play a big part in the future growth of TV. "The TV industries in the UK and abroad will continue to be reshaped in ways no one can quite predict," he claimed, "however it is clear that web-delivered programming will play a vital role in that transformation. The technology behind SeeSaw is world class and the group behind the bid has a great mix of entrepreneurial and industry experience."

Criterion is thought to be keeping SeeSaw running as a separate business unit based in its existing London offices, but the news isn't all good: while 'most' key staff members will retain their jobs, some of the 28 employees are expected to be made redundant as a result of the purchase.

Neither Arqiva nor Criterion were willing to comment on the terms of the deal, but it is thought that over £10 million has changed hands.