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Can new Android app help Aereo win?

Aereo is the controversial service that allows users to essentially rent antennas for a low monthly price and have their local channels available streaming live on their portable devices and Mac/PCs. But there has been an important part of the Aereo puzzle missing, and that is going to be completed on Oct. 22.

Aereo has focused on iOS at first, and had previously created an iOS-specific mobile website. Most users watch their programming thorough a web browser, so Aereo made sure it worked the best when viewing through iOS. But later this month, the company will launch a new Android app, which provides even more users with the ideal viewing experience. 

The journey into Android is not surprising and signals an important move from the company, which is focused on expanding and advancing its roll-out. Adding Android support moves it from being an iOS-focused company to a more all-inclusive company, targeting multiple platforms and user bases. The move could not come at a better time, as Aereo is in a constant struggle to legitimize itself. 

It has been locked in court battles for months, but recently won several (including one this week in Boston) that have allowed it to do business as usual. That business is providing customers with a service that allows them to stream live local TV. It does this by setting up and hosting tiny antennas for each and every customer. While questions of how this business model can scale to millions are sure conversation starters, Aereo has kept its head down, focusing on rolling out to more cities and fine-tuning its software. 

The company argues that the programming is free over the air, and it is just making it more convenient for people to grab it — something they can do with or without the service. Broadcasters are fuming, looking at this through the lens of cable and satellite retransmission, and wondering where their fees are. The networks are in the process of petitioning the Supreme Court to review previous wins by Aereo. They are not likely to give up anytime soon. Unfortunately, for the networks, the longer Aereo can go on and expand and improve it services, the harder the genie may be to get back into the bottle. 

Android is one new leg of the roadmap, and there will be others. But getting on that platform will be huge and will help Aereo continue to dig in and offer consumers an alternate to high cable bills. The app will be available on Oct. 22 in the Google Play Store.