Sezmi is making its broadband and broadcast set-top setup available in 10 new markets, expanding beyond a limited trial of services in Los Angeles that began earlier this year. But while the company called its LA trial a success, we’re skeptical that consumers will be eager to pay $299 plus an additional $4.99 per month to get live access to content, most of which is readily available through Hulu or can be picked up over the air with a $30 digital antenna.
Residents of Boston; Detroit; Houston; Kansas City, Mo.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Miami, Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; and San Francisco will now be able to use the Sezmi hardware to get live and on-demand content from broadcasters like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, as well as broadband Internet video from YouTube and other online video providers. But unlike in LA, the system won’t be sold in Best Buy stores (though it will be on sale through bestbuy.com), and users won’t have access to certain premium cable content.
The Sezmi system includes an HD Media Recorder that gives users access to a mix of live, recorded, on-demand and online content, and can store up to 1,400 hours of programming, as well as an over-the-air receiver to capture broadcast and cable channel signals. The hardware is priced at $299, and users must pay an additional $4.99 a month for its entry-level Sezmi Select offering, which combines over-the-air broadcast content with a smart DVR and numerous online and on-demand videos.
The $4.99 Sezmi Select offering will give its users access to content from ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox, NBC and Univision content over-the-air. But new customers in the expanded markets won’t be able to view cable content that’s usually sold as part of its $19.99 Sezmi Select Plus package. Cable programmers whose content is available in that package include Bravo, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, MTV, TBS, TNT, USA and others. Sezmi is planning market expansion for Sezmi Plus Select later this year.
While there’s a convergence component to Sezmi being able to blend broadcast and broadband content together, the startup will face some stiff competition on that front from products like TiVo DVRs and Google TV-enabled devices, which offer similar functionality.
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