In early 2016, NBCUniversal launched an ambitious direct-to-consumer streaming service called SeeSo. The service, which costs $3.99 per month, was filled with both original and acquired comedy content, and marked the company’s first major foray into standalone streaming services.
SeeSo ultimately closed its doors in November, 2017.
Now, the company is planning a return to the streaming world, and the strategy could not be any more different.
NBCUniversal is aiming to launch a new streaming service and app, called WatchBack, by the end of the year, according to multiple reports. Unlike SeeSo, the app will be free, and will not include any exclusive or original content.
Rather, WatchBack will include episodes and clips from across the company’s portfolio of channels, which includes Bravo, USA, Syfy and of course NBC. It may also include windowed content from online influencers that are popular on other video platforms.
The goal of the service? To serve as a promotional tool, ultimately driving users of the service to check out the programming through more traditional means. The company may incentivize users to do so by offering “points” or rewards for watching content, potentially redeemable for gift certificates or other items.
With bundles of streaming channels proliferating, and competitors like CBS going all-in on dedicated streaming services (both paid services like CBS All Access and free services like CBS Sports HQ), WatchBack marks something of a different approach: a streaming service that is a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself.
WatchBack is not the only streaming service NBCU has in the works. The company recently relaunched its premium crafting service Craftsy as Bluprint, and will beef it up with original entertainment and educational programming.
In addition, NBC News is developing a streaming service that would compete with CBSN, delivering news and analysis streaming online all day. NBC News is currently experimenting with different programming concepts through its website.