So Much for Sezmi's Cable Killer

By  |  Monday, December 20, 2010 at 10:03 am

Sezmi’s “Select Plus” package, which included a bunch of popular pay TV stations for a fraction of what cable costs, is going down the tubes.

If you haven’t heard of Sezmi, that’s because the service is rolling out slowly and inconspicuously, starting in Los Angeles and now available in 36 U.S. markets. By cutting deals with local broadcasters and cable networks, Sezmi Select Plus delivered pay TV channels over the air through a special antenna box for $20 per month with a $150 hardware bundle, which includes a DVR.

Now, VideoNuze reports that Select Plus, which included channels like Comedy Central, CNN and Discovery, will be discontinued in the United States.

Sezmi will instead focus on its $5 per month “Select” package, which includes the same channels you can get through regular old rabbit ears. And that service will be delivered through broadband instead of over the air. Apparently, broadcasters have become skittish about leasing their unused wireless spectrum to Sezmi, given the Federal Communications Commission’s interest in acquiring that spectrum for wireless Internet.

I reviewed Sezmi for PC World in June, and although I had some gripes with the software interface and occasional reception glitches, the idea of a low-cost cable alternative, with DVR included, was unbeatable.

But without those premium channels, Sezmi brings little to the table compared to other set-top boxes from Boxee, Roku and Google TV, along with the current batch of game consoles. Between Netflix, Hulu Plus and subscriptions to individual sports, you can already maintain a healthy diet of web video without betting on a company that’s still trying to find its business model. From my perspective, premium channels are what made Sezmi unique.

I suppose it always seemed a little too good to be true.

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