I’ve mentioned Aereo in blog postings before but just to refresh all our memories; Aereo is a New York City based company that offers broadcast television shows that go out over the airwaves and into Aereo’s office and then are sent to subscribers via the Internet. The idea is that you don’t have to be home in front of your television set to watch content that you could get for free via aerial antennae if you were at home.
And to give you an example, it used to be, and sometimes still is, that people lived far enough out of town that they couldn’t subscribe to a cable TV service via a cable service provider like Comcast or Time Warner Cable because the cable wires were not set up that far out of town – so no service was offered in their out-of-town region. So instead they hooked antennas to their roofs and/or television sets to receive a basic number of broadcast television channels for free. Now granted you couldn’t get all television channels that way – premium paid channels like HBO and Showtime weren’t available; however your local network stations and PBS were – so you could tune in to ABC, NBC, CBS or PBS if you were at home and watch whatever programs were being shown. And Aereo offers those free over-the-air (aerial) broadcast channels to customers in their service areas by actually having a small antenna for each customer in their service centers that receives the free broadcast programming and then sends it to customer’s accounts over the Internet.
And thus Aereo offers the free over-the-air broadcast television stations to their customers to access via an app on their smartphones and tablets. And Aereo further offers a certain amount of DVR storage for each customer so if you live in one of their service areas you can record that episode of Law & Order or Seinfeld that you missed the first time around and watch it later via your smartphone or tablet whenever you want to.
Aereo debut its service to consumers living in the New York City region last March. And as you can imagine this system is not one that the cable and media companies are pleased with! Comcast, CBS & Walt Disney have so far brought two law suits against Aereo claiming that Aereo is illegally broadcasting their content by essentially cutting cable service providers out of the picture altogether. They claim that Aereo is infringing on their copyright for the channel programming they sell to their customers even though it is perfectly legal for consumers to put a TV antenna on their own roofs and to access over-the-air television channels for free when they are at home; and Aereo is only broadcasting over-the-air channels to people who could obtain those channels for free, via rooftop antenna, in their area. So last March, just before the Aereo service debuted, Comcast, CBS & Walt Disney filed an initial law suit against Aereo claiming that their service was illegal – the court ruled against them and for Aereo stating that the Aereo service was in fact legal. And not surprisingly the plantiffs appealed the ruling. This morning a second court decision was also handed down upholding the first decision and yet again ruling that the Aero service is legal.
And so far this year Aereo has expanded its service to include 29 additional near-by counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut so the ability to access broadcast television networks and their shows via the Internet may become the new norm. I’m sure most people, including myself, would be willing to pay the $8.00 per month subscription fee (or the $80 yearly fee) to watch broadcast television programs via our smartphones, tablets or streaming media players whenever we want to.
And in relation, I think that they cable companies, by tight fistedly trying to hang on to their outdated bundled channel business model, are missing the proverbial boat and the opportunity it presents to make money in this new high tech Internet streaming age of ours. I can’t of course speak for anyone but myself but I did that cord-cutting thing three years ago and I much prefer it! I stream video content at home via my Roku and Apple TV players via my Wi-Fi network, and on the go via my smartphone and iPad. And I pay Netflix $7.99 a month for their all-you-can-eat (okay all-you-can-view) subscription to their catalog of titles and $79 per year to Amazon for unlimited access to their Prime Library of video titles and I can then watch them anywhere I can access the Internet. I can also purchase or rent videos from Amazon and buy videos from Apple so if I want to watch the latest episode of Grimm or Mad Men I can buy it the day after it airs on television. TV episodes come in standard definition for $1.99 and HD for $2.99 and I don’t mind paying that for episodes of a series I really like but I did mind an ever increasing cable bill that had me subscribing to many channels I never watched just so I could watch the handful of channels that I did want to watch. And did I mention the price? Amazon Prime & a yearly subscription to Netflix totals $175.77 – and I was paying almost that for my monthly cable bill before I cut the cord.
So I am excited by the second court ruling in favor of Aereo because I see this as not just a win for Aereo but also a win for consumers who today increasingly like to be able to watch whatever video content they want to watch when and where they want to watch it and not be tied to a cable TV cord.
Here’s a link to a New York Times article on Aereo and the new court ruling in its favor:
A second link to a Tech Crunch article on the same subject:
A third link to a short USA Today article that sums up the basics of the subject:
And a link to the Aereo website that offers you a look at the pricing of their service plans:
Have a great day!
Compare Plans. Aereo. Online. Accessed April 1, 2013.
Crook, Jordan. (2013, April 1). Aereo Looks To TV Providers, ISPs To Accelerate Growth. Tech Crunch. Online.
Stelter, Brian. (2013, April 1). Aereo Wins Appeal: Trail Likely for Streaming TV.
Yu, Roger. (2013, April 1). Good news for cable cord-cutters in Aereo win. USA Today. Online.