Parks Associates Blog

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Open ... Sezmi!

I haven't decided yet if Sezmi is a better name than Building B, but in any case, the service launch is now official with today's press release. The funny thing is that Europe is actually way ahead of the U.S. in these type of hybrid terrestrial + broadband video television offerings - many European telcos offer this type of service (albeit not to this level of sophistication) as they have sought ways to keep customers locked into a landline broadband and phone offering.

The Sezmi development team really has covered a lot of key components of the whole "TV 2.0" experience - high-definition offerings, video-on-demand, access to "over-the-top" content, greater personalization and customization of the video search and discovery process, and social networking aspects (sharing playlists). What has been evident from the early AT&T and Verizon rollouts of their deep fiber-based video services (U-verse and FiOS TV, respectively) is that many consumers are switching to these services simply because they offer an alternative to cable. Sezmi says that they can deliver a high-quality television experience at half the cost of cable. So, it could be a compelling offering.

For Sezmi to be truly successful, I'll be looking for the following things:
  • How quickly will it sign cable channels such as CNN, Fox News, ESPN, and others? News and sports remain critical linear channels to have in a lineup.
  • Will local broadcast affiliates be asking for special arrangements in exchange for carriage rights? I'm wondering if Sezmi will want/need to create some special advertising/promotional slots to allow the local stations to either sell local advertising or use their news Websites to drive traffic to stories and additional video. That could actually be really interesting for Sezmi to allow viewers access to local content or news and enhance the television experience.
  • Will it be able to create deals with broadband service providers who will want to offer a hybrid terrestrial and broadband video service? My initial hunch is that Sezmi may find some success with smaller Tier 2 or Tier 3 DSL providers who are not quite ready to dip their toes into the IPTV market but are looking for a video offering to provide a triple- or quad-play bundle.
  • I think that video-on-demand services (and particularly time-shifted network television programming a la Time Warner Cable's Start Over feature or Cox Communication's deal with Disney/ABC/ESPN) are really going to start to define how service providers deliver a much more personalized video experience to their subscribers (and still tie advertising to that programming). Will Sezmi be able to strike its own deals in this regard?

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