Cable, Satellite Alternative Sezmi Sees Major Market Launch

Sezmi, a subscription TV service aimed at consumers fed up with cable and satellite TV, officially launched Thursday (Feb. 18) in Los Angeles and parts of surrounding counties, following a trial there last year. The service uses broadcast digital spectrum leased from TV stations to deliver local TV, cable and Web video.

Plans are to launch Sezmi into other markets, making the service available nationwide this spring via distribution deals with broadband providers.

Consumers can purchase the equipment—a set-top-box capable of recording 1,400 hours of programming; and antenna, from Best Buy—for $299. Two monthly subscription plans are available, one for $19.99 and a stripped down version for $4.99.

Though Sezmi has more bells and whistles (VOD plus the Internet connection), it is not dissimilar from USDTV, which also used the broadcast spectrum to deliver a cheaper alternative to cable and satellite. USDTV launched in four markets, only to fold in 2007 with 14,000 subscribers.

Sezmi’s pitch to consumers is aimed squarely at the dissatisfied cable customer.

“Consumers have been clamoring for a better way to view their favorite shows, movies and Web videos in a seamless way—and at an affordable price,” said Buno Pati, co-founder and chief executive officer for Sezmi.

Sezmi is still working on its lineup, which includes all the local TV stations and 23 cable networks such as CNN, TNT, USA, MTV and Discovery.