UK VOD Services Close as Plans are Announced by Google and Netflix

At least two VOD services have recently closed in the UK, highlighting the difficult competitive and economic challenges that face emerging on-demand services.

SeeSaw has closed after new investors, Criterion Capital Partners, decided not to continue funding after having entered the company in July 2011. SeeSaw had been created by Arqiva in February 2010 using assets from Project Kangaroo, the catch-up TV platform that had been rejected by the UK’s competition regulator. The SeeSaw website offered content from BBC Worldwide, Channel 4, Channel Five and several production companies, but in September of this year, Channel 4 and Five both withdrew their content.

Another service, has also closed, although the founders are hoping to find new investors.  According to an announcement on their website, they decided to close down, ¨both the festival and the channel for the foreseeable future whilst we search for a new investor. We are obviously devastated as we have worked tirelessly on the project to build a community and an engaging showcase of independent film for both filmmaker and film lover.¨

Both SeeSaw and fell into scope of the new AVMS regulations in the UK, and within the remit of ATVOD, the industry co-regulator for VOD. Under AVMS, on- demand services are required to adhere to specific rules and guidance as well as pay a fee covering the costs of the co-regulatory regime.

Meanwhile, You Tube has named the first 96 original channels it plans to launch in December 2011. The line up includes a Pets & Animals channel, a lifestyle channel, two channels from Hearst Magazines, one from The Wall Street Journal and another from producer, Lionsgate.  Sports content will be provided by WWE Fan Nation, and Kick TV will be offered by Soccer United Marketing.

You Tube parent company, Google, has also announced plans to update Google TV, starting with the connected TVs offered by Sony. The new version promises to deliver a more friendly user-interface, improved content navigation, a better  YouTube experience intended directly for Google TV that will support HD, and  will offer more apps based on its Android operating system via the Android market. Logitech devices will also be updated to Google TV 2.0.

Netflix, the US film and TV service has also announced its intention to launch a streaming service in the UK in 2012.

Falling in scope of AVMS rules under ATVOD is based, among other things, on the jurisdiction of the parent company being based in the UK.

Update, 9 November 2011: Retired Life TV, essentially a video blog with user-generated content about items of interest to older people, such as caravanning, also announced that it was closing its service down. To read the announcement, ¨Gosling Abandons Attempt to work with ATVOD¨, click here.