Aereo to let users watch network shows on mobile devices


Backed by media mogul Barry Diller’s web empire, IAC, Aereo is a new online television service that streams local TV shows to paying subscribers using dime-sized antennas stored in a remote data center. Aereo will cost $12 a month after a 30-day free trial and be available to NYC residents on 3/14.

Aereo lets users access live, HD network television on Web-enabled devices such as smartphones or tablets. Aereo’s subscribers will be able to tune in to live TV on any of the major networks in New York (including CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, CW, PBS) or schedule recordings just like on a traditional DVR. Subscribers will simply launch the app that behaves just like a DVR, complete with a grid of live TV listings and a list of their shows recorded (and stored) not locally, but in on Aereo’s cloud servers.

The company has several large “antenna arrays” in Brooklyn, filled with thousands of mini-TV antennas. Each array is capable of receiving local over-the-air TV broadcasts. When using an Aereo account, users are assigned their  your own individual mini-antenna.

The recorded or live broadcast is then streamed over the Internet to an Aereo-compatible device, which at the moment includes iOS devices, with support for Roku boxes and the Kindle Fire coming soon. Aereo’s interface is an HTML5 Web page.

“This is about the future,” Chet Kanojia, the founder and CEO of Aereo said in a press conference unveiling the new technology. “Customers will have access to a TV signal and be able to take it anywhere. No cable is required.”

But while the service lets you watch over-the-air networks, it won’t carry cable channels.

The launch comes as younger viewers are increasingly turning away from TV and spending more time with their mobile devices. But will viewers be willing to pay $12 a month for the Internet TV service, considering the widespread availability of free video over the Internet?

Aereo could also face legal challenges, notes The NY Daily News. TV networks might argue that they are entitled to the type of fees that cable and satellite companies are required by law to pay. Said Diller: “Think of every little antenna having someone’s name on it.”

Aereo says that because it will assign one antenna per subscriber, it is not subject to those same rules.

RBR-TVBR observation: There are now plenty of handheld DTV receivers around that can pick up exactly the same broadcasts for free. If this offered cable networks, we think it would be a hit and people would pay a monthly fee for it. But indeed, Diller and Aereo may have a legal challenge on their hands.