Build Your Own Personal Aereo

I’ve seen many articles lamenting the Supreme Court decision shutting down Aereo’s TV over Internet service but several articles as well showing consumers there are do-it-yourself alternatives to Aereo. A number of companies are offering special deals to former Aereo customers.

Tablo is a system that allows you to browse, record and stream free local HDTV broadcast program on any device, anytime, anywhere in the world. A two-tuner model costs $219.99 and a four tuner version is $299.99 on the Tablo web site. It is also available from Newegg.

You'll need an antenna for it. Antennas Direct says it will give away 1,000 antennas to Aereo customers. Upload your Aereo billing statement and pay $10.00 for shipping and they will send the first 1,000 people to respond a ClearStream 2 Complete antenna with 50-mile plus range, 30 feet of coaxial cable and a 20-inch J-mount.

Using the TiVo Anywhere application you can add remote streaming and downloading to some TiVo DVRs. The six-tuner Roamio DVRs support it directly while a TiVo Stream is required for use with the four-tuner Roamio or TiVo Premiere devices.

One solution that's been around for a while is the Hauppauge Broadway. Hauppauge has added a record feature to Broadway as a free download. Plug a USB thumb drive into the unit to record and playback shows on Android or iOS devices. Amazon showed me a price of $156.95 for Broadway.

Channel Master announced it would give Aereo subscribers a free antenna and a DVR discount. For $269.99 and a copy of their June 2014 Aereo bill, subscribers will get a bundle that includes a Channel Master SMARTenna, DVR+, and USB Wi-Fi adapter. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear you can view TV or DVR content over the Internet on a wireless device with this device.

If you truly want to build it yourself, another option is theMythTV, open source DVR software that's been around since the analog days. Newer versions of software support streaming video over the Internet to other devices. It isn't “plug and play” and you'll need a dedicated computer to run it on, but using a Linux distribution such as Mythbuntu installation isn't that difficult but debugging it can take a while. I know some TV stations are using it to create a record of what they broadcast.

Windows Media Center provides DVR support but as far as I know does not offer the ability, at least not without some assistance from other programs, to stream content to other devices over the Internet.

There are other options. A Google search for “Aereo alternatives” is a good place to start. One thing to check is the cost of the program guide. While TV stations transmit an over-the-air program guide, many do not list more than a day or two's programming. Access to a guide service is included with some units but can require a monthly fee or a huge one-time cost (around $500 for TiVo) with others. One of the options for MythTV isSchedules Direct, which cost $25/year.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.