A Silicon Valley company today announced the launch
of what it called “the third TV service.” The company and the service
are named Sezmi. Sezmi service is slated to begin today in Los Angeles, and roll out gradually in most parts of the U.S.
sources content from digital TV broadcasts and the Internet. It’s not
just tuning in local digital broadcasts, though. The company says it
has struck deals with local TV stations across the nation to use their
multicasting capabilities to transmit a variety of programming normally
available through cable or satellite, such as CNN, Comedy Central, and
Bravo. These broadcasts will be scrambled so they can be received only
It can also source video content through the Internet, much as many
of today's current Blu-ray Disc players and TVs sets can. Currently
YouTube is the only big-name Internet provider available through Sezmi,
but the company says it expects to add many more in the coming months.
The Sezmi hardware consists of a set-top box with DVR capability; a
digital TV antenna/receiver that looks like a bookshelf speaker; and a
remote control. Sezmi says that hardware will be available through
retailers or through local telephone companies. The hardware could be
leased like a cable box, or purchased outright at what a Sezmi rep
called a "target price" of $299.
The company says that its hardware can be installed by consumers in
30 minutes. The homeowner will need either DSL or 4G Internet service
with a wireless router, and good reception of digital TV signals. Sezmi
says that consumers can enter their location on the company website to
find out if the service is available in their area. While the company
admits that some households won't be able to use the service because of
poor digital TV reception, it expects to be able to reach about 85% of
According to Sezmi CEO Buno Pati, the primary benefit of Sezmi is that
it's less expensive than cable or satellite service. Target pricing for
the Sezmi Supreme service, which includes more than 100 channels plus
Internet video, local broadcasts, and access to pay-per-view movies, is
$24.99/month. The Sezmi Select service, which includes Internet
services, local broadcast, and PPV, costs $4.99/month. "Our research
shows that our audience will skew toward younger, more budget-minded
and tech-savvy consumers," Pati said.
The remote control features dedicated buttons that allow family
members to access their own "home page" on the Sezmi system, which will
present a selection of their favorite content and channels, TV shows
they've recorded, and movies they've purchased or rented through PPV.
The actual source of the content will be invisible to the end user; all
they'll see is the program title.
The L.A. launch is a three-month pilot program that provides the
Sezmi hardware and service for free. Interested consumers can find out
more through a link on the home page of the company's website.—Brent Butterworth
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