Bebo owner buys SeeSaw for more than £10m

SeeSaw, the online television and entertainment platform, has been acquired for more than £10m by a consortium of investors including Bebo-owner Criterion Capital Partners and former Channel 4 chief exec Michael Jackson.

SeeSaw: acquired for £10m by a consortium of investors
SeeSaw: acquired for £10m by a consortium of investors

Transmission company Arqiva, which launched SeeSaw in February 2010 after buying the assets of Project Kangaroo (a joint venture between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4) will retain a 25% stake.

The primary operations will continue to be located in London and most key staff members, including platform controller John Keeling and commercial director Matt Rennie and director of product and technology Richard Dines, will stay on board.

In a statement Criterion Capital Partners said the deal pulls together a number of investors comprised of entertainment executives, new media entrepreneurs, institutional funds and private equity partners.

Arqiva had announced it would pull the plug on SeeSaw in June because it had failed to find an investment partner or buyer for the troubled service.

Criterion Media Group, a division of Los Angeles-based merchant bank Criterion Capital Partners, will take majority ownership of SeeSaw. Other Criterion investments include social network and digital media, restaurant and retail companies.

Jackson will take the role of chairman of SeeSaw, effective immediately, and he will also take an ownership stake. A well-known figure in the UK media industry, Jackson has also held the roles of controller of BBC One and BBC Two.

Jackson said: "The TV industries in the UK 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.

"The technology behind SeeSaw is world class and the group behind the bid has a great mix of entrepreneurial and industry experience."

Former Walt Disney Imagineering vice president Dan Adler has joined the consortium as an investor. As a strategic advisor Adler will focus on worldwide production studio relationships using his experience structuring deals between studios, brands and actors at the new media practice at Creative Arts Agency.

Despite his involvement it is understood SeeSaw has no plans to add films to its line-up.

SeeSaw offers over 3,000 hours of TV programmes from independent production houses and UK and international broadcasters and claims to have had a worldwide audience of 900,000 in May.

SeeSaw was Arqiva's first foray into a consumer facing company and though it spent £8m on buying the assets of Project Kangaroo, which was blocked by the Competition Commission, Arqiva found it difficult to compete in a crowded VoD market.

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