For those of us who have either Cable TV or Satellite service there may be another option coming our from a company called Sezmi. Currently the company is conducting a trial run in Los Angeles with an expected release date in March of 2010.

So what is Sezmi? It is a combination of over the air television coupled with broadband to bring the consumer what it calls a less expensive alternative. Less expensive than Cable TV or Satellite since the cost could be about $25 a month for local stations and 100 broadband stations. But before you start to get excited about this new prospect there are some real limitations that have been spelled out in an L.A. Times article. It states:

The trial lineup doesn’t include any of Disney or Fox’s cable networks, or any regional sports networks or premium movie channels. Company co-founder Phil Wiser said the trial offers just a snapshot of what will be available when the company does its official launch, and that it’s still in talks with content providers. I have trouble seeing how Sezmi could compete with ESPN and the Disney Channel, Fox’s news and sports channels, FX, HBO and Showtime. But I also wonder, if they add those channels, how they could stay at $25 all-inclusive price.

The service transmits cable networks over the air, through digital TV frequencies leased from a few local broadcasters. They can use those airwaves much more efficiently than broadcasters can, enabling them to transmit multiple high-definition streams in a single channel. But Sezmi doesn’t have nearly as much bandwidth at its disposal as cable operators do, which means the amount of high-definition programming may be more limited. The company wouldn’t say how much HD it would deliver, just that “the most popular content on the most popular networks will be in HD as available.”

The reliance on over-the-air transmissions for much of the programming means that homes with poor TV reception may not be able to use Sezmi. Company officials say that the “smart reception system” is the highest- performing over-the-air receiver ever built, using multiple technologies to grab signals more reliably than the typical antenna. In fact, Chief Executive Buno Pati said, the company expects to be able to serve 80% to 85% of the customer base in Los Angeles. That’s important because the city is a key market for Sezmi, with the country’s highest number of households that do not subscribe to cable or satellite.

Finally, the company may emphasize personalized program guides and on-demand viewing, but when it comes to pricing, Sezmi sells channels in bundles that cannot be customized. That’s not much of a change from cable or satellite services, although Sezmi’s prices are far lower.

After reading the limitations of the Sezmi service, the new company may have difficulty prying my Dish Network controller from my hands. However, for some folks on a limited budget, this may provide a less expensive alternative. Time will tell how well, or not so well, Sezmi will be accepted in L.A.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

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