One of the big questions we’ve had about set-top box startup Sezmi was how much the service was going to cost. We’ve known the company wants to partner up and distribute its box through ISP partnerships, but Sezmi has always kept mum on pricing (which made us skeptical of its success). Now we have a few more details on the cost front, thanks to today’s Miami Herald. From that piece:
At the basic level, Sezmi will offer broadcast stations for free and offer other popular cable shows on pay-per-show rate. Users would either buy or rent the Sezmi set-top box (from the yet-to-be-announced national retail provider) and connect it to a broadband Internet connection. The box would cost somewhere between $300 to $350, or it could be rented out for $10 to $12 a month.
We have our doubts about the viability of Sezmi, because its solution is a complex one that combines both over-the-air broadcasts and video delivered over broadband. This content pricing scheme doesn’t do much in the way of making it simpler. Granted, we don’t know how much Sezmi will charge per show, but even if it’s dirt cheap, this a la carte pricing means that people have to monitor how much TV they consume, and won’t know immediately how much their bill will be month to month. If you really wanted a la carte programming, you could just go with an Apple TV and get an HD antenna to receive the networks for free. Apple (s APPL), as a company, has all the studio and network relationships, but more importantly, you can be pretty sure it will be around in a year. Sezmi, on the other hand, is a startup. Sure, it raised $28 million in November, but that funding came just days after it laid off 20 percent of its staff.
The set-top landscape has changed dramatically since Sezmi got into the game. TVs are plugging into the Internet to receive video content from the likes of Netflix (s NFLX) and Amazon (s AMZN) directly, smaller set-top box player Roku is opening up to other video services, and upstarts like Boxee are already letting users access sites like Hulu on their TVs. For now we’ll have to wait and see if consumers take to Sezmi. According to the Herald article, Sezmi is launching a partnership with a large retail provider in September to sell a bare-bones version of the box to anyone with an Internet connection.