Sezmi has hit the deadpool, at least from the consumer perspective. The company, which had offered a combination of over-the-air broadcast content and some streaming video, announced it has shuttered its consumer-facing services and will be focusing on selling its hardware to operators instead. The decision comes after finding little customer adoption, despite raising some $71 million.
Here are the top five reasons Sezmi was unable to convince cord cutters to pony up for its service:
1. Expensive proprietary hardware
When Sezmi first launched, its combination of over-the-air tuner plus online streaming hardware cost a whopping $299. The price came down as time went on, but even at $149, the hardware was too expensive for most people to justify purchasing — especially since the hardware was incompatible with other services. Moreover, consumers have caught on that proprietary systems rarely pan out, meaning you’re often left with a useless piece of hardware if the service shuts down, as Sezmi eventually did.
2. A confusing value proposition
Not only was Sezmi’s hardware expensive, but it wasn’t clear what users were actually getting with the package. In addition to the one-time hardware cost, users also had to pay $4.99 a month for access to broadcast content — like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Telemundo and Univision — which most would be able to access through a regular old HDTV antenna, and without having to pay a recurring monthly fee. Live in Los Angeles? Then you were in luck, and could sign up for a $19.99 per month Plus Service, which also included cable networks like Bravo, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, MSNBC, MTV, TBS, TNT and USA. Either way, it wasn’t clear why a user would choose Sezmi over streaming services like Netflix or Hulu Plus.
3. Not enough content
For the amount of money Sezmi was asking its users to put down for hardware, plus the amount they would have to pay each month, there was very little to differentiate the service from alternative video sources. Outside of a few live broadcast channels, Sezmi didn’t offer much that users couldn’t find elsewhere. Sure, it had access to some streaming content like YouTube videos, but that wasn’t enough to compete against the 250 or so channels available through streaming set-top boxes from the likes of Roku or Boxee.
4. Consumers not cutting the cord quickly enough
While there are plenty of reasons to believe what Sezmi had to offer just wasn’t good enough, there’s also the matter of timing. Sezmi might have been a little ahead of the adoption curve, in terms of releasing a hardware-based solution to help users cut the cord and not rely on cable anymore. Sezmi’s hardware was first announced in 2008, but didn’t become widely available until last summer. Even so, the number of users who have cut the cord over the past year or so looks to be limited, even if we expect that number to grow in the future.
5. Too many other choices out there
At the end of the day, though, users who wished to cut the cord had a number of hardware options and services to choose from. On the hardware side, Sezmi was not only up against streaming boxes, but connected TVs and Blu-ray players, as well as game consoles offering streaming services that people already had in their houses, not to mention the vast amount of content that consumers could access from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Instant Videos and other services. With so much choice out there, it was too difficult for Sezmi to make a dent in the market or convince users why they should standardize on its proprietary hardware or pay for its broadcast TV service.