Criterion eyes SeeSaw

U.K. online TV service is set to close

U.S. investment outfit Criterion Capital Partners is believed to be close to purchasing struggling British online TV service SeeSaw, which had been due to close following sustained losses.

Criterion has already bought beleaguered social network site Bebo for a bargain price and, according to reports in local media, hopes to repeat this strategy with a last-minute bid for SeeSaw, owned by U.K. TV transmission company Arqiva.

“Arqiva is still in discussion with various parties about a possible sale,” a spokesman said.

Last month Seesaw, which offers online video on a free and pay basis, said it intended to mothball the service in June after failing to find a buyer.

Criterion bought Bebo in 2010 for a reported $10 million from AOL, which acquired it for $850 million two years earlier when it was riding a wave thanks to pioneering original content.

Former U.K. TV topper Michael Jackson now runs Bebo for Criterion and his skills may be called upon to rejuvenate SeeSaw.

The VOD service was popular with users seeking free content. But, in common with other U.K. aggregators, SeeSaw could not persuade enough people to pay to watch its shows.

Joost shuttered its U.K. service in 2009 while the loss-making VOD company Blinkbox recently sold a majority stake to U.K. retailer Tesco.