Sezmi Launches LA Pilot, Lands $25M

Dave Zatz —  November 16, 2009

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Given a year of radio silence, I’d assumed Sezmi had gone the way of the dodo Akimbo and Moviebeam. However, after speaking to president and co-founder Phil Wiser last week, it seems they’ve quietly been working deals, raising new capital, and refining the Sezmi experience. And, today, they’re launching a public pilot in Los Angeles.

When last briefed (in 2008), Sezmi planned to exclusively offer television services through sidelined telcos (NOT Verizon or AT&T) to round out a triple play offering. That’s still on the menu, but Sezmi will also be making a direct-to-consumer retail play in the coming months.

The 1 terabyte, skinable Sezmi DVR ($300 or subsidized/leased via carrier) aggregates content via it’s OTA ATSC tuners and broadband. Basic service for local guide data, web content (podcasts, YouTube, etc), and access to à la carte video on demand (CinemaNow) will run $5/month. However, the real interesting component is Sezmi Supreme service, for $25/mo, which also provides “cable” channel simulcasts (Discovery, CNN, USA, etc… but no ESPN?) via over-the-air ATSC broadcasts. Want to (economically) replace your cable co? This is how you’d do it. Unfortunately, to take advantage of Sezmi’s most compelling content, you’ll have to reside within a region where they’re leasing spectrum.

Over-the-air “cable” is a reasonable concept. Think Freeview. But, uh, not actually free. I was pretty fired up the last time this was attempted in the US, but USDTV died before they were able to blanket more than a few US markets. So, here’s hoping Sezmi is more successful in their venture.

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You can apply for Sezmi’s LA pilot here. During the three month beta, the hardware and Sezmi service (including those OTA cable channels) is free. Once complete, you can purchase the DVR and tuners at a discount along with a monthly service subscription. Or just send it all back. (Which is all far more consumer friendly than ZillionTV’s pilot that requires an upfront cash investment in beta technology without actually providing a complete product overview.)

5 responses to Sezmi Launches LA Pilot, Lands $25M

  1. Random stuff I didn’t get into the post… The remote looks much uglier than the sexified render we saw in 2008. Co-founders Wiser and Buno Pati are fellow Maryland alumns.

  2. The Cable Show is being held in LA in the spring. I foresee massive Sezmi marketing. :)

  3. ESPN requires that when it is carried is is available to all subscribers on the lowest basic tier, it is never available al a carte and costs ~$2.50 a month per subscriber.

  4. They’re also doing a SF Bay Area trial:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/search/ci_13784834