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NBCU Sets ‘Seeso’ Comedy Subscription VOD Channel Launch

NBCUniversal announced plans to launch Seeso, a $3.99-per-month over-the-top subscription channel stocked with episodes and clips from the Peacock’s top shows and other sources including “Saturday Night Live,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “The Office” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

In addition to licensed TV shows, Seeso includes a healthy slate of original series and aims to eventually stream live comedy specials. NBCU will launch the service in private beta in December, with public launch set for January.

“The big niche we’re focusing on is comedy,” Evan Shapiro, executive VP of NBCU Digital Enterprises, said at a press event in New York. “It’s the most popular genre out there by a long stretch, by a Secretariat stretch.”

Shapiro emphasized that ad-free Seeso service isn’t designed to go head-to-head with the three major subscription VOD services — Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. He said the big SVOD players act like the broadcast networks “around 1978” in providing “all things (to) all people.”

“This is a complement, not a replacement” for general-interest SVOD services, said Shapiro. Moreover, he claimed that Seeso would augment, rather than eat into, viewership of NBC shows on TV and distributed across other platforms, like Hulu.

Content in Seeso will include all 40 years of “SNL,” including day-after-air episodes; “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”; “Late Night with Seth Meyers”; “Parks and Recreation”; “30 Rock”; both the U.K. and U.S. versions of “The Office”; “The Kids in the Hall”; and “Saved by the Bell.”

Seeso expects to produce about 20 original series in the first year of operation, Shapiro said. Among the first: “The UCB Show” featuring Amy Poehler and other Upright Citizens Brigade troupe founders Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and Matt Besser; an animated series from “Community” creator Dan Harmon, dubbed “HarmonQuest”; and a standup series from Wyatt Cenac (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”).

Other Seeso originals on deck: reality show spoof “Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” from executive producers Scott Aukerman, Ben Garant, Tom Lennon and Kulap Vilaysack; workplace comedy “Thingstarter,” and dating game improv show “Dave & Ethan: Lovemakers,” both from Broadway Video’s Above Average Productions; standup series “Take My Wife” from creators and hosts Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher; travel show parody “Hidden America with Johan Ray”; comedy series “Live From The Barrel House” and “The Comedy Show Show” from Rooftop Comedy; “Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane,” a musical comedy about two mismatched housemates, one a human and the other a puppet; and dark family comedy “Flowers,” starring Julian Barratt and Olivia Colman.

In addition, the service will include daily standup specials and 3-5 movies per month, with titles to include “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Seeso also will stream live comedy specials down the line, according to Shapiro.

The service will available at seeso.com, mobiles devices and all major OTT platforms in Q1 2016, Shapiro said. NBCU Digital Enterprises also is in talks with pay-TV providers about offering Seeso as an add-on digital offering to their customers, he added.

About 10%-15% of Seeso’s content will be available for free to anyone (who enters an email address), Shapiro said, as an enticement to sign up for the subscription service.

The Seeso launch event was held at NBCU Digital Enterprises’ office space in SoHo. Shapiro, former head of Pivot Television, said NBCU Digital Enterprises — which he described as a startup within Comcast/NBCU — has about 10 employees in NYC, with another 10 in L.A.

The group’s recent hires include Patricia Parra Hadden, ex-CMO of Shazam Entertainment and former Hulu marketing exec, as head of marketing, and Ben McLean, previously in charge of business affairs for Xbox Entertainment Studios and Pivot TV, who leads business affairs.

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