Video services

Sezmi Sets Big Expansion

5:55 PM -- Sezmi Corp. 's out to kill cable and satellite TV one market at a time with a low-cost, hybrid broadband-broadcast video service, and it appears that the company's getting ready to start the bloodletting in quite a few more towns and cities near you. (See Sezmi Reaches 10 New Markets, Sezmi Goes Retail With Best Buy, Sezmi Founder: We'll Replace Cable & Satellite TV , and Sezmi Raises Cash, Slims Down.)

The company is spreading word that it will be expanding the availability of its entry-level, $4.99 per month "Sezmi Select" service to a total of 36 markets later this week, up from its current base of 15. Here's the full list:

  • Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Atlanta
  • Boston (Manchester, N.H.)
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Cleveland-Akron (Canton), Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
  • Detroit
  • Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich.
  • Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, N.C.
  • Greenville-Spartanburg, SC-Asheville, NC-Anderson, S.C.
  • Hartford and New Haven, Conn.
  • Houston
  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Kansas City, Mo.
  • Los Angeles (also has Select Plus available)
  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
  • Nashville
  • Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.
  • Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla.
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), N.C.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.
  • Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.
  • St. Louis
  • Washington, D.C. (Hagerstown, Md.)
  • West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, Fla.

The $4.99 Sezmi Select package, by the way, comes with a DVR that sports 1 terabyte of storage, access to Sezmi's video-on-demand catalog, the Sezmi guide, a set number of broadcast TV channels, and over-the-top fare from YouTube and other Web-fed sources. But customers still need to shell out $149.99 for the DVR and accompanying "reception system."

Its Select Plus package, currently only offered in Los Angeles, runs $19.99 per month and includes all that plus a lineup of some relatively popular cable channels, such as Nickelodeon, CNBC, MTV, and VH1... but no ESPN.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:28:06 PM
re: Sezmi Sets Big Expansion

With a broad set of markets, we'll soon see how well their  ala carte-esque premise works.  Keeping an expensive net like ESPN out of the picture will help keep the cable programming-oriented package priced low, but the lack of it will be a deal-breaker for sports fans. JB

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:28:06 PM
re: Sezmi Sets Big Expansion

Is the company releasing any numbers on actual subscribers in its markets? The idea of building buzz through long lists of expansion markets was played to the hilt by CLECs in the late 90s. Then something happened -- or didn't.

You have to love the premise of delivering video service devoid of conventional sports programming, though. Very counter-culture.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:28:06 PM
re: Sezmi Sets Big Expansion

Things must be picking up when ideas like this start to surface.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:28:05 PM
re: Sezmi Sets Big Expansion

They've been playing it low key on subscriber numbers, though we might be able to squeeze out an addressable subscriber number out of them, but that would only give us their potential. If we could get them to fess up to an expected penetration rate over a given time period, we might be able to back into an educated guess on what they think they can get. 

But it is an interesting model that's been more miss than hit. USDTV tried a similar approach, in both technology and the segment of the market that's being targeted, but ended up pulling the plug in 2007 after a four-year run. Perhaps Sezmi will do better.  They are already ahead in terms of market reach. USDTV, a JetBlue of sorts from the subscription TV arena, was up in four markets (Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Las VEgas, and Dallas/Ft. Worth) before it had to shut it down. JB



shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:28:05 PM
re: Sezmi Sets Big Expansion

The low low price point is a bit of a stretch, too, since you need a broadband connection (perhaps supplied by the local cableco?) for the service. Given the multiplay deals that still abound, the path to glory here will be a difficult one to tread.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:28:02 PM
re: Sezmi Sets Big Expansion

No doubt. The price point is a bit misleading in the sense that customers do need to subscribe to broadband, so the telcos and cable guys still stand to get something from consumers who take the Sezmi path.  But that $4.99 number will still turn some heads. Not sure if it will, under closer inspection, get them to open their wallets too.  JB

Cooper10 12/5/2012 | 4:27:58 PM
re: Sezmi Sets Big Expansion

Sezmi undoubtedly faces numerous challenges in driving adoption.  One interesting aspect of the various OTT players is how they're changing the price/value perception for services from the estalbished pay TV providers.  Netflix has reset the bar for the perceived value of a premium channel subscription for movies, and they're making rapid inroads into the TV series space.  Similarly, the principal appeal of the Sezmi service is the 1TB DVR, for a one-time fee of $150 plus $5 per month - that's just over $200 for 1 year, and ~$275 for two years.  DVR service from cable, satellite, or telco is comparable for 1 yr (approx $180 @ $15/mo), but is much more expensive the longer you have the service ($360+ for 2 yrs, etc.)

Whether they gain market share or not, they're exerting price pressure for premium channels, DVR, and HD service from the established pay TV providers 

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