Sezmi shutters its struggling consumer hybrid TV business

Think it might be a piece of cake to launch an alternative to cable and collect all those cord-cutters out there into a business model that works?

Think again.

Hybrid TV service provider Sezmi, which has raised $92 million since its inception in 2006, rolled up its long-moribund consumer service Monday, telling the existing subscribers it still had that it "has changed its business focus to providing our product and technology platform to service providers, internationally and in the U.S., who are interested in providing broadband video services to their customers."

The company shuttered the service Monday.

The direct-to-customer service it offered, which was available in 36 U.S. markets at one point, blended over-the-air broadcasts of local channels, supplemented by a mix of cable network and web content.

Despite the deep pockets of its investors, Sezmi never really managed to take off. Co-founder and chief executive Buno Pati told FierceIPTV in October that the struggles were partly due to the legacy structure that existed in the U.S.

"In the U.S., what we find ourselves doing is weaving in and out of the legacy structure that exists; you try to fit yourself into that legacy system and business model," he said.

But it was equally likely the problem getting Sezmi rolling was due to an expensive buy-in for consumers (the service required that customers purchase a special antenna and a 1TB DVR from Sezmi for $150 and that they have a high-speed Internet connection) and programming that barely rivaled a basic cable package.

Michael Greeson, co-founder of The Diffusion Group  questioned earlier in 2010 whether even Sezmi's $20 a month "Select Plus" package (which never got beyond being offered in Los Angeles) included enough content to interest consumers. Apparently, it didn't. Sezmi in December stopped offering the Select Plus deal, telling customers at the time that it would focus on its basic package and look for more programming deals. It also cited a lack of interest from consumers and an accelerating online video environment.

For more:
- see this Sezmi letter to customers

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