Television giant NBC is trying a bold experiment: Charging viewers, at a discount price, to watch comedy shows online. To sweeten the deal, NBC promises access to exclusive series that won’t be on YouTube or Hulu. The new service, called Seeso, will cost $3.99 monthly and offer episodes and clips from current NBC sitcoms and late-night shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and classics like The Office, The Kids in the Hall, and Saved by the Bell.
But Seeso’s secret weapon is original content. Re/code’s Peter Kafka reports the service will include new programming from Community creator Dan Harmon (who has apparently come to some sort of peace in his public clashes with NBC), Wyatt Cenac of The Daily Show, and the Upright Citizens Brigade.
At a New York press conference, NBCUniversal executive Evan Shapiro told Variety’s Todd Spangler that “The big niche we’re focusing on is comedy. It’s the most popular genre out there by a long stretch, by a Secretariat stretch.”
Secretariat, meanwhile, figures as a major plot point over at rival service Netflix’s Bojack Horseman. And while Shapiro emphasized Seeso isn’t intended to compete with Netflix, Hulu (of which NBCUniversal is a corporate parent), or any other service, that’s exactly what it’s doing. Even at its discount price, Seeso replicates much of the content on Hulu and Netflix. The service’s only prospects for long-term survival, for best or worst, rests on their original content.
Seeso will be advertising-free and is entering private beta in December with a formal launch in early 2016.