For two months we’ve been anxiously awaiting the debut of the brand new all-comedy streaming service from the NBC Digital Team, and although Seeso isn’t set to officially launch until January with a $3.99/mo price tag, there is an all-free Beta version of the platform available right now! Yesterday, Executive VP of NBCU Digital Enterprises Evan Shapiro opened the doors for us with a personal tour of the new service, and all its features.
You won’t really need a tour. Seeso is really easy to use, particularly for anyone acquainted with other streaming services like Hulu or Netflix. But there’s so much to look at, you might not know where to begin. Seeso is essentially a candy store for comedy fans with a lot of choices, and they haven’t even rolled out all the programming yet.
Evan directed my attention to exactly where to begin– although he didn’t need to. All you have to do is log in to find your first content. Unlike other services, signing in to the service is like turning on a television channel- you’re immediately greeted with a video screen playing a curated list of comedy programming. “One of the major innovations is, we’ve curated the way programmers and curators should,” Shapiro told me, “so that you’re not guessing. There’s something playing when you log on so you don’t have to wait to start watching.” You can of course easily disable this feature and go off on your own, but it’s one of the signature features of Seeso- that you don’t have to know what you’re looking for.
Then there are “the rails” which are rows of choices including “Featured Staff Picks”, “Seeso Originals”, “Late Night: Best Bits”, “Seeso Exclusives: Get to Know the Kids in the Hall”, “British Invasion”, “Seeso Exclusives Monty Python”, and “Stand Up” are the current visible rails. Shapiro was particularly proud of the Kids in the Hall rail, letting me know that the KITH haven’t been available on streaming video on demand in a long long time, and Seeso is now the exclusive home for KITH archives. And they’ve been remastered, and remixed into HD for the first time in history. Click on anything to start building a personal playlist or jump right back into Staff Picks for a different experience.
But the real test of Seeso will be the original programming, most of which is yet to come. Three series premiered with the early beta release, and the most interesting of the three, “The UCB Show”, is one of those ‘what took you so long?’ kind of revelations. The Upright Citizens Brigade has more than earned its place in comedy, launching the careers of Bobby Moynihan, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Paul F. Tompkins, Doug Benson, Kate McKinnon, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll and Aziz Ansari to name just a handful. It seems crazy that with all the stand-up shows that have come and gone, no one has showcased live shows at the Brigade before. The UCB Show is hosted by UCB Founders Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, and showcases stand up as well as sketch from UCB members and celebrated alums. Season one leans more heavily on Los Angeles UCB but Shapiro said that they plan to focus Season Two on UCB New York. “If you go to LA, three times a night, every night of the week, both UCB theaters are completely sold out,” Shapiro told me, “and in NY, both UCB theaters three times a night, every night of the week.” The UCB Show now gives the chance for those who haven’t visited the theaters, or don’t live in New York or LA a chance to enjoy the UCB experience and Shapiro is confident that viewers are going to love the series. “This is the best sketch being done live in the US now, bar none,” he said.
Seeso has also launched a great animated series “Cyanide and Happiness”, and the musical animated puppet show “Sammy J and Randy on Rickets Lane”, which Seeso promises is unlike anything you have ever seen before. It might remind you somewhat of “Wilfred”, or more accurately “Greg the Bunny” but only superficially. The tone is wildly different from either and the musical component adds an entirely different aesthetic. On December 17th, “Before the Morning After” drops, which Shapiro calls “the worlds most fucked up talk show” which was shot at the world famous Edinburgh Comedy Festival, and features comedians getting drunk from about 2am to 5am. And there’s lots more coming, over 20 brand new original series are coming to Seeso in 2016, many being shot now.
Stand up fans have a lot to be excited about on Seeso, where Shapiro says the “depth of content” will really stand out. This section houses stand up routines and monologues from Saturday Night Live, a great series called “Funny as Hell” from Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival that’s never been seen, and maybe most interestingly, a partnership with San Francisco based Rooftop Comedy which will be providing brand new, never before aired stand up clips “every single day of the week, of the year” recorded live in comedy clubs around the country. Coming soon, Seeso’s bringing brand new world premiere comedy specials from Cameron Esposito, and Rory Scovel, several stand up based series including “What’s Your Fucking Deal” with Big Jay Oakerson, “Night Train” with Wyatt Cenac, and a series from Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher, all of which will feature stand up comedians from around the country. And Seeso will be doing live specials that you can watch from home as it happens halfway across the country.
Seeso’s original content isn’t old guard focused. Shapiro says they are putting the focus on young up and coming comics- names familiar to the hardcore comedy nerd, but new to most of America. “There’s a renaissance going on in comedy that is not a bunch of doughy middle aged white guys doing observational humor. Its younger, more artisanal, more diverse voices and people doing much more storytelling type comedy, like sketches at UCB,” Shapiro explained. “We like this renaissance that’s going on in stand up and in comedy in general, and we think we’re poised to capitalize on it in a way that we don’t see very many other places doing right now.”
Join Seeso now to check it out for free, before the pay wall goes up in January, and if you need some help finding your way around, Evan told me he’s willing to give everyone a personal tour. “I don’t think me giving every user a personal tour is scalable,” he said, “but I am willing to do it,” he said. “If you want to put in your article, if you follow me on twitter I’m willing to give the next 10,000 people a personal tour through the site. It’s a limited offer though, you only have till Sunday.”