Silicon Valley startup Sezmi is doubling down on its bet that a significant number of consumers can live without linear cable networks -- and just want over-the-air local TV mixed with video-on-demand content.
This week, the venture-backed company will expand its entry-level service, Sezmi Select, to 36 U.S. markets. Those include Atlanta, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Jacksonville, Fla., Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle-Tacoma and St. Louis. A full list of the Sezmi Select markets is available here.
For $4.99 per month, the service offers access to broadcast channels, DVR features, and some VOD and Internet video content. The service also requires consumers to pay $150 for the Sezmi antenna and 1-Terabyte DVR; the hardware previously was $299.
Sezmi is "geared toward people who are tired of paying the high price of cable and satellite," the company says. It notes cable companies typically charge more than $5 per month just for DVR service.
For now, Sezmi offers the premium Select Plus service -- with 23 linear cable networks -- only in Los Angeles, its first commercial market launched in February. Eventually, according to the company, it expects to roll out Select Plus in all markets but has not announced timing.
Sezmi's system delivers TV programming and VOD using a combination of Internet bandwidth and multicast spectrum leased from local broadcasters. Customers must separately sign up for broadband service.
In addition to local broadcast content, Sezmi offers movies and TV shows on-demand, ranging from 99 cents to $4.99 each, from partners including 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers. Users also are able to access YouTube clips, as well as video and podcasts from other online content providers.
The Sezmi service also includes personalization features, to let users create individual profiles so that each member of the household is shown content tailored to their tastes. Sezmi then automatically suggests and records new content for each user based on the feedback the user gives the DVR.
The Sezmi antenna and DVR system is available through BestBuy.com and at Best Buy stores.
Sezmi (pronounced "SAYS-me") has raised $75.5 million in funding from Morgenthaler Ventures, OmniCapital Group, Index Ventures, TD Fund, Legend Ventures and Advanced Equities. The Belmont, Calif.-based company was founded in 2006 as "Building B."