Blog Post

Sezmi Expands to New Markets — But Is Anyone Buying?

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 (s DIS), CBS (s CBS), Fox (s NWS) and NBC (s GE), as well as broadband Internet video from YouTube (s GOOG) and other online video providers. But unlike in LA, the system won’t be sold in Best Buy (s BBY) stores (though it will be on sale through, 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 (s TIVO) DVRs and Google (s goog) TV-enabled devices, which offer similar functionality.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: New Business Models For Pay TV Services (subscription required)

8 Responses to “Sezmi Expands to New Markets — But Is Anyone Buying?”

  1. Anon in the Know

    This box is will sit on the heap of boxes that couldn’t compete with cable, Dish or internet. Between youtube and Netflix you have everything. It’s a joke. Sezmi CEO Buno Pati is a snake oil salesman. He was fired from his previous company.

  2. Mauricio

    @Len Feldman

    Well, you get a 1TB DVR, and an antenna that’s better than your rabbit ears. I won’t attempt to compare with Tivo feature-for-feature, but assuming they are close, the $300 is competitive (and with current 50% off promotion it’s a steal).

    The $4.99 subscription is less than half of Tivo’s. And you only need 1 if you have multiple boxes.

    The subwoofer-like antenna doesn’t faze me one bit. It looks cool actually. As far as reception the rabbit ears work just fine right now for me, so I can’t imagine the Sezmi antenna doing worse. I guess it really comes down to where you are and the reliability of the signals.

    I’m going to pick one up this weekend while they are still 50% off. I hope for my sake your indications of interface instability are a bit exaggerated ;-)

  3. anonymous

    I got the Sezmi box in the L.A. trial. They get an “A” for effort… The presentation was sophisticated, but set-up is not easy and the antenna is big and looks like a subwoofer from the 80’s. Everything is delivered through an antenna and the Internet, it’s slow, unstable and I found myself continuously getting up to adjust the antenna like watching TV in the 70’s – not my idea of emerging TV technology. There may be a market for people who find value in the subscription service, but paying $300+ for the equipment and then having to manipulate it to work, may be a bigger barrier than they expected. I think they’ve come close, but no cigar yet, I’m sticking with cable!

  4. Without the Select Plus offering, I can’t imagine why anyone would buy this, when they can get most of the content over the air and the rest of it via the Internet without needing a $299 box.

  5. Are you sure the Sezmi box will not be available at Best Buy in the new markets? Any idea why? I’ve heard they are selling for half price in LA Best Buy. Any correlation?

    Sorry for being anonymous, there’s a reason :-)