Aereo Dangs the Torpedoes, Offers Free Trial, $1-a-Day Pass

NEW YORK: Aereo today offered up a free trial for New Yorkers who want to try the subscription service that retransmits broadcast signals to mobile devices. A new feature allows Big Apple denizens to try Aereo for free “for a continuous one-hour period each day,” and for a $1 a day for those who want to try it out a little longer.

The service is limited to residents of New York City, where it beta launched in March with a 90-day free trial followed by a $12 monthly fee for 20 over-the-air channels and 40 hours of cloud storage. Broadcasters there sued on grounds of copyright violation because Aereo did not seek permission or retransmission consent for TV signals. Aereo claims it doesn’t have to because it’s not the type of multichannel video provider covered in content copyright law. The company positions itself as more of a landlord, renting out individual antennas from large arrays situated around the city.

Folks who want to try Aereo for free have to be “physically present in New York,” and go to the company’s website to sign up. The company reminds users that they are “responsible for any relevant data charges.” The one-hour free trial provides access to just one of the dime-sized antennas for live viewing only.

The pay options cover two antennas—one for live viewing and the other, for cloud-storage recording. The $1-a-day pass includes three hours of storage available for 10 days. The $8-a-month option includes 20 hours of storage; the $12, 40 hours—both include a second month free. The $80-a-year plan is for 40 hours of storage and three months free (17 cents a day, Aereo says). The service is supported on Apple devices and Roku, with plans for availability on PCs and Android “later this summer,” Aereo says. Subscriber numbers have not been released.

The broadcasters, including Fox, Univision, PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS, Telemundo, and a number of local TV stations, sought an injunction to stop the service while the court cogitates the copyright question. Their request was denied July 10 by Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
~ Deborah D. McAdams

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March 14, 2012:“Aereo Beta Launches Despite Legal Challenge”
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March 1, 2012:“New York Broadcasters Sue Aereo”
WNET, Fox, Univision, Tribune’s CW affiliate, WPIX, and the Public Broadcasting Service have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to stop Aereo, now set to launch in New York March 14.