Aereo, the company that captures OTA TV and sells it as a subscription service, is still wrapped in a legal grey area concerning its service, but that has not slowed it down; it is setting its sights on a next phase, a widespread 22-city rollout in the coming months.
The company is based in New York and uses a series of micro antennas to grab existing OTA broadcasts and then sell the service to subscribers. They can then watch the channels on various devices including laptops, Roku boxes, iPhones and iPads. It also has plans to support gaming consoles in the coming year. The service allows pausing of live TV, as well as saving broadcasts for later on-demand viewing. This past week the company announced plans to move into 22 additional cities (the initial rollout was just NYC) and will soon debut in areas such as Boston and Chicago. Barry Diller of IAC Interactive is leading a new round of financing, this time to the tune of $38 million, also announced this past week.
The service has various subscription plans, starting at $1 for a day pass, with 10 days to watch up to three hours of recordings, through $8 a month for unlimited viewing including 20 hours of storage, to $12 a month or $80 a year for 40 hours of storage. The various tiers should appeal to casual viewers wanting to try it to those immersed in watching TV. So far the company has slipped out of injunctions brought on NY networks, but it is far from out of the legal woods as of yet. Traditional broadcast is not too keen on the idea of repurposing and selling live TV, especially since they don’t get a cut. Aereo continues to claim that what it's doing is perfectly legal, and with the fact that it is using tiny antennas to pick up shows for customers, the company is confident they are going about it in a legal manner.
When the Aereo service was a New York City test bed, it was an intriguing premise that seemed like it could disappear in a few months. Quite the contrary, now that it is rolling out to a couple dozen densely populated metropolis areas, Aereo has suddenly become very real. The fact that it now may be playing on a device near you, has caused the industry to closely watch the developments. Anything that can wrestle television out of a monopoly and provide alternate choices could be a very good thing. Especially for local OTA TV, which is in desperate need of some spit and polish to appear relevant in a sea of pay services, satellite and cable.
One thing is clear with this announced rollout, Aereo shows no signs of conceding defeat and absolutely no signs of slowing down.