Thursday, January 7, 2016

5 Streaming Video on Demand offerings I'd like to see in 2016 Part 1: NBCU Sleuthy Thing

NBC Universal's SVOD offering Seeso, which focuses on hip comedy, marks its official launch this week, and I won't be a charter subscriber. I signed up for the beta last month, checked out what was available, and mostly forgot about it until the beta expired. Now, granted the holidays took a lot of my time, but still I was unimpressed by a bunch of "Parks and Recreation"  episodes, other reruns that had been widely available for years, and I just wasn't into checking out the original content without a Roku app. The only thing I really wanted to see? The 1980s "Saturday Night Live" episodes, and I was disappointed to learn Seeso has the same heavily edited versions Netflix and Comcast Xfinity offered.

So Seeso is not a winner for me yet, but I will  keep an eye on it. I am also looking ahead to 2016 and the possibility of more of these niche SVOD services springing up.  In fact, in this great interview with Decider, Universal's Evan Shapiro says that 9 different platforms are in the works at his company alone, though he indicates not all of those will actually be developed.

Over the next week or two, I will pitch some ideas for SVOD services. In reality, I don't want a  bunch of new things to pay for. I want the existing big guns--Netflix, Hulu, and even Amazon Prime although I don't have that one--to keep adding library content and giving it to me as part of my existing subscriptions. And, oh, yeah, I am focusing entirely on library content--the old stuff--and also on niches that existing cable channels should be covering but aren't.

Let's start with NBC Universal. It's likely that one of those "platforms" Shapiro mentions has something to do with crime/detectives/etc. Wouldn't it be great to have a whole channel devoted to nothing but old detective shows? Well, there was one called "Sleuth." Now it's called "Cloo," and it is basically USA Network 2, showing "CSI" "House," and such.

As part of Netflix's ongoing purge of catalog programming, it has lost Universal properties like "Quincy," "Magnum P.I.," and "Miami Vice" over the past year. Is it possible that it isn't entirely Netflix refusing to renew the deals, but Universal holding out for more money and/or reserving content for an online version of Sleuth? So far, Netflix still has "Columbo" and "The Rockford Files," but maybe they will be next.

If you give me a whole library of decent crime shows that are unedited and commercial free and unavailable elsewhere, will I pay 3.99 a month (Seeso's current price point) for it? Eh...depends.  it sounds like a great idea to me, but not if the content is rotated in and out, nor if it's just these old standbys. I want to see "The Snoop Sisters," "Ellery Queen," "Banacek," even 1950s programs like "Johnny Midnight." And how about giving us the rest of "Kojak," only half of which has ever been on Hulu?

I'd be interested in a Sleuth SVOD service, but it should be BETTER than the Sleuth network was.  At its launch, Sleuth sounded like a good idea, but it showed a handful of different series over and over again, and nothing was from before the 1980s.

I don't have high hopes for my vision coming to fruition. If Seeso is indicative, Universal will be a lot stingier with its selection of content than I would prefer for a pay service. Plus Shapiro seems to be most excited about new original content, not library stuff. Still, I imagine the company is looking at ways to monetize some of the archives. I wouldn't be surprised to see offerings related to science fiction and horror, either, but given how NBC Uni has treated those genres in its cable channels, I can't be too optimistic about them.

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