Flush with $38 million in financing, Aereo, the startup that brings the TV antenna to the internet is expanding to 22 cities in the USA after launching in New York City.
Aereo connects local TV broadcast signals to I.P. enabled devices such as computers, tablets and smart phones so viewers can watch local TV anywhere including NBC, CBS, ABC a host of other channels, anything that is transmitted via local broadcast signals. No word yet on if Aereo is expanding to Canada.
Backed by media veteran Barry Diller, Aereo has the potential to be a disrupter for the cable news business because it offers cheap service, you can watch local TV on most devices, and it has recording capabilities to boot.
The price for Aereo starts $1 for 24 hours and goes up to $80 a year for the unlimited plan.
Increasingly, startups and more established new media companies are gnawing into the revenues of the big cable services providers. Services like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes provide high quality on demand TV shows and movies.
Now, Aereo, is targeting another niche local TV. So, theoretically unless you are die hard sports fan (ESPN), you can get your local news, broadcast shows, a lot of big ticket sports, through a combination servies like Aereo and, say Netflix.
Understandably, broadcasters are not happy and the big broadcasters supported by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement.
The position of Aereo in all of this is summed up CEO Chet Kanojia “What is at stake is whether a consumer’s right to access broadcast television for free, via an antenna and to record that content for private use, is still meaningful. If consumers cannot take advantage of current and innovative technology, that right becomes hollow.
There are certain things we take for granted as Americans. One of those things is free access to over-the-air broadcast television and the ability to record and watch our programs.”
Aereo uses an ingenious (its critics would say diabolical) technology that leverages a “micro-antenna” for each user (somewhat similar to a home antenna) thereby getting around the notion of “sharing” broadcast signals. An initial ruling said Aereo could continue to operate despite the lawsuit which ultimately lead to the $38 million in series B financing, and now to Wednesday’s expansion announcement.
Kanojia told Bloomberg news that once it successfully expands in the USA it plans to hit global markets, presumably Canada.