NBCUniversal to Launch Ad-Free Streaming Comedy Channel

Comcast’s NBCUniversal plans to debut a Web-only subscription video service in January called Seeso that will offer comedic fare such as standup specials, original series, select movies, and NBC classics like “The Office” and “30 Rock” along with late-night hits including “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” The ad-free channel, which will cost $3.99 per month, will offer more than 20 exclusive original series during its first year. NBCU said it does not have plans to remove its content from other digital services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube.

Programming will include popular Web content, animated series, improv and sketches from the Upright Citizens Brigade, and new scripted series such as “HarmonQuest” with Dan Harmon, the creator of “Community.” Amy Poehler is co-producing and co-hosting a weekly variety show called “The UCB Show.”

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According to The Wall Street Journal, the channel will also feature programming from Seth Meyers’ late-night show, all of the SNL library (and full episodes the day after they air), former NBC series including “Parks and Recreation,” and “three to five films a month plus a library of all the Monty Python movies and live-streamed comedy performances once a month.”

Reaching millennials and younger viewers who are drifting away from traditional television has become a challenge for media companies. “The goal of services such as Seeso,” notes WSJ, “is to lure some of those consumers without accelerating the decline of traditional pay TV.”

“Seeso will have to battle for attention, because the number of options for streaming television has increased exponentially,” suggests The New York Times. “At the same time that the streaming services Netflix, Amazon and Hulu pour resources into building out their offerings, traditional media companies like HBO, Showtime and CBS have introduced digital offerings.”