Sezmi launches pilot – could be a threat to cable, satellite services

Sezmi, a burgeoning broadband service that will stream live
TV (broadcast and cable) to sets, is one step closer to widespread launch. The
company today launched a pilot program in Los Angeles with several significant
partners – and a new cash infusion.Sezmi

Sony Pictures, MGM Studios, Paramount Studios, Warner
Brothers, Lion’s Gate Entertainment and Universal Studios have all signed on to
stream movies on demand. NBC Universal, Turner, MTV Networks and Discovery
channel will offer some or all of their cable offerings (making up roughly 25
of the most-watched TV channels). And all of the major broadcast networks  – ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, Telemundo,
Univision – are on board as well.

The company has also received another $25 million in funding
from several investors. Among those banking on the company are Morgenthaler
Ventures, Omni Capital, TD Fund, Index Ventures, and Legend Ventures and a new,
unnamed strategic investor.

Sezmi plans to be a cable competitor, offering live
television content via broadband Internet services. Users will have a set-top
box allowing them to access both broadcast and cable content, along with
on-demand films and Internet video content. The system is promising more
personalization options than existing TV providers as well as much lower costs.

Participants in the pilot will receive a free subscription –
but when the service goes live, the company will offer two tiered packages.

Sezmi Select, the entry tier, will offer all local channels
(in SD and HD) as well as access to on-demand content for $4.99 per month.
Sezmi Supreme will run $24.99 per month – and will including the lineup of live
cable channels as well as local. (The specific channels have not yet been

This is suggested pricing. Sezmi will enter homes through
distribution partners, rather than direct sales from the company – so those
partners will have final say on what they charge.

Assuming the pilot goes well, the company is aiming for
wider distribution in the middle of the first quarter. Sezmi officials say they
will reveal more specifics around those plans (including distribution partner
names) at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

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