Sezmi Pulls Plug On Cable Networks

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Sezmi, the startup pitching a hybrid broadcast/Internet TV service, is scrapping its package that includes a bundle of linear cable TV channels.

Effective Dec. 28, 2010, Sezmi will no longer offer the Select Plus service, which had included 23 linear cable networks for $19.99 per month. Instead, the company said, it will focus all future U.S. service efforts on the Sezmi Select package, which includes broadcast TV, video-on-demand and Web content for $4.99 per month.

In a statement, Sezmi said, "It has become increasingly clear with the explosion of video on the Web that the vast majority of what consumers want to watch is available over the air, through on demand, or online, which is the content mix currently offered by our Sezmi Select package."

The privately held company has not disclosed how many subscribers it has. In August, the company expanded Sezmi Select to 36 U.S. markets.

Sezmi

Sezmi's cable package was launched only in parts of the Los Angeles market. The lineup included TBS, TNT, USA Network, Bravo, CNN, Headline News, Discovery Channel, Comedy Central, Planet Green, MSNBC, VH1, Cartoon Network, Oxygen, CNBC, MTV, Nickelodeon, TLC, Science Channel, Syfy, Animal Planet, TruTV, Boomerang and TCM.

"Rather than pursue the more traditional bundled cable programming model represented by Select Plus, Sezmi will focus on further developing its Select offering to make more programming available to consumers through new features and partnerships it will announce in 2011," the company said.

Sezmi's service requires customers to have high-speed Internet connection. In addition, they must pay $150 for the antenna and 1-Terabyte DVR.

Sezmi is offering former Sezmi Plus customers six months free of the broadcast-only service, plus a $150 credit for video-on-demand purchases. The company noted that it will continue to offer some cable programming via VOD, including Showtime's Weeds and AMC's Mad Men.

"We are listening to what our customers want and are aligning our offering more with how people want to consume content going forward," CEO Buno Pati and president Phil Wiser wrote in a letter to Sezmi customers. "We will remain the best TV service and platform that brings the world of live broadcast television together with DVR, Internet and on demand services in a simple and affordable package. And we'll stay true to our vision of delivering a compelling alternative to traditional cable and satellite services."

Belmont, Calif.-based Sezmi (pronounced "SAYS-me") has raised more than $92 million in funding to date, after securing a $17.3 million round this fall. Investors include Morgenthaler Ventures, OmniCapital Group, Index Ventures, TD Fund, Legend Ventures and Advanced Equities.

The company plans to expand internationally in 2011, with a focus "on new partnerships that will deliver on the promise of convergence in countries that do not have hardwire cable infrastructure already in place," it said. Earlier this fall, Sezmi was the TV component of a wireless quadruple play in Malaysia.

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