05.02.2008 12:00 AM
Sezmi Launches ‘TV 2.0’
Sezmi, a start-up company, formerly known as “Building B” has announced the launch of a new set top box it says combines the best of traditional over-the-air broadcasting with the power of the Internet and digital storage to deliver a “true television alternative.”

Dubbed “TV 2.0,” the Sezmi box, which is scheduled for commercial launch later this year, attempts to use myriad distribution methods to deliver real-time and on-demand video to a set top box. The plan is to sell the box through 3G and DSL providers like Verizon or AT&T. It will serve as a DTV converter box, broadband Internet connection and DVR with a 1 TB hard drive, and give customers access to a wide range of Internet video sources, including YouTube, for example.

“Sezmi focused on the television consumer and built an entirely new television offering from the ground up to meet the needs of viewers that want a premium experience at an affordable price,” said Buno Pati, Sezmi co-founder and chief executive officer. “We have rallied support across multiple industries and are excited to work with our partners to offer a new and differentiated TV choice to consumers.”

The guts of the box include Sezmi’s “FlexCast” video distribution technology the company says combines terrestrial DTV signals with existing broadband infrastructure to cost effectively deliver digital video content. The system uses available capacity in existing DTV broadcast networks and creates a private, secure broadcast transmission for content. A new, modular smart antenna indoor reception system has also been developed so that the box can be placed in any location in the home and requires no user adjustments, the company said. The remote control includes unique buttons for individual members of the household that, when activated by the user, will provide personalized homepage-like screens, specifically tailored to each viewer’s interests.

Sezmi said it is working with advertisers, broadcasters, broadband and content communities “to create an entertainment platform that delivers enhanced value and new opportunities as the TV industry navigates through the major disruptions it is now facing.” The company said the box will provide new subscription TV opportunities for broadcasters and that it has already entered into agreements with broadcasters in its initial launch markets. Harris Corp. has reportedly built a network operations center in Melbourne, Fla.

“Sezmi’s innovative platform enables broadcasters to enhance their core service, while creating new revenue opportunities,” said Colleen B. Brown, President and CEO Fisher Communications. “Advertisers continue to tell us they want this type of measurable targeting to generate greater efficiencies on television and as broadcasters, we need this type of audience intelligence to more effectively connect our viewers with new programs.”

Whether the box succeeds will depend mainly on cost and ease of use. Out of the set-top box, the Sezmi service resembles a number of previous failed attempts to utilize broadcasters’ DTV spectrum for services such as datacasting and subscription TV services, like MovieBeam and USDTV.

See this week’s Doug Lung’s RF Report for Doug’s take on the Sezmi announcement.

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