Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

Summary: The cord cutting siege continues with Aereo, a service that sends broadcast television directly to phones, tablets, and televisions.

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The quest to cut cable is getting a bit easier with Aereo, a service that now offers live broadcast television to tablets, smartphones, and, well, televisions.

The idea is interesting, if rather convoluted. Aereo takes existing broadcasts of stations like CBS, NBC, and FOX, and beams them to customers via a dedicated browser app. The service, which is right now only offered in New York City, runs for $12 a month. That's a bit much to ask for something that most people can get for free.

But Aereo's founders hope that the convenience of having access to broadcast television on multiple devices will justify the monthly price tag. The service also offers DVR features, which certainly sweetens the deal.

But the legal issues should be evident here, as Aereo's basic business model is certainly not something broadcasters and cable companies can be all that happy with.

Aereo has sidestepped the legal problems, at least so far, by stretching definitions. The company draws its most significant legal precedent from a 2008 Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld Cablevision's move to offer DVR features in its set top boxes. In that case, Cablevision held DVR boxes at its own offices, but ceded remote control of them to its customers, which the court didn't find too much fault with.

Aereo follows a similar strategy, assigning to each customer an antenna whose content is streamed directly to their devices. Legally, that's not supposed to be any different from having the antenna in your own house. It's just one long cord.

The legal grounding is admittedly a bit dubious, but here's the bigger question: Is Aereo what cable cutters have been looking for? Like Boxee's recently-announced Live TV Tuner, the service doesn't offer cable television content, which is 80% of what cable cutters want anyway. But both Aereo and Boxee Live TV Tuner do show that there is some room for disruption in the cable area. And that can only be a good thing.

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22 comments
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  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    Considering Ivi.tv got shut down with an injunction last year will be interesting to see this one go the distance.
    deancollins
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    The price point is too high. Not competitive for just that tiny wedge of cable service.
    XXP
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    TVCatchup.com has been running 60 mainstream IPTV to all platforms here in the UK for six years now - old news...!!!
    another_expert
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    What would be cool is if it allowed you to watch the local stations in, say, New York even though you are living in Wyoming.
    boomchuck1
    • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

      @boomchuck1 So buy a Slingbox for your friend in NY, and that can happen.
      fergdoug
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    Using the electromagnetic spectrum is insane in 2012, when only 5-8 percent of homes still use an antenna. It'd be better to subsidize a cable or satellite-delivered "lifeline" of local channels and then auction off most of the spectrum to mobile users, maybe keep one over-the-air signal per major city. The proceeds from the auction would more than cover the subsidy to the last few holdouts. Also, most local digital channels have multicast capability. Put ABC-NBC-CBS-FOX on two standard digital channels and call it a day. Broadcasting is so 1990.
    fergdoug
    • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

      @fergdoug : So, uh, farmers and truckers continuing to use CB is really dated???
      Willnott
      • RE: So, uh, farmers and truckers continuing to use CB is really dated???

        @Willnott <br><br>The poster is probably some urbanite that has no concept of what it is to live in a rural area. His approach [b]might[/b] work for densely populated urban areas, but it is a disaster for those who do not live close to cities.<br><br>Where I will agree with him is that since broadcast TV can multiplex signals, it does make sense to reduce the number of active broadcast channels in a given service area. [b]However, it is very unlikely that any broadcaster would be willing to [i]trust[/i] a competitor to "piggy back" his signal on theirs.[/b] So, even there, i don't see it happening.
        fatman65536
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    You concluded your article stating that this could 'Only be a good thing....' That would be true if Aereo did not stand to simply replace the cable with it's only pricing structure for what is other's wise free.....Isn't that a bit like saying if we get rid of Exxon, we'll all be happier....while we continue to pay Shell, BP, and Mobil.
    chobe
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    Honestly, we live in an area where we get about 110 channels (counting all of the digital channels) with a simple indoor antenna. Hook up sling box or similar device and you can view them anywhere you want with no fees (other than internet of course). I don't see where this can succeed as a business model.
    cmwade1977
  • The problem as I see it

    Great idea, wrong location... Being in a rural loction I would definately pay for this service & dump overpriced cable. In NYC where you can get mulltitudes of channels on rabbit ears it's not likely they'll attract enough subscribers to make it worthwhile. Too bad...
    The Reverend
    • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

      @The Reverend : Sounds like a concept - except one also has to consdier what kind of infrastructure would be needed to "ruralize" the service - Why do you think all the "new ideas" are only centered toward urban locations??? If an infrastructure *can be* built for rural locations, it opens up many more options for data flow than just TV - after all traditional TV is suffering a slow death anyway.
      Willnott
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    A good idea for rural areas that along with Netflix and other web content would be ok
    preferred user
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    A good idea for rural areas that along with Netflix and other web content would be ok
    preferred user
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    A good idea for rural areas that along with Netflix and other web content would be ok
    preferred user
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    A good idea for rural areas that along with Netflix and other web content would be ok
    preferred user
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    A good idea for rural areas that along with Netflix and other web content would be ok
    preferred user
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    A good idea for rural areas that along with Netflix and other web content would be ok
    preferred user
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    But over the air is in HD, and basic cable is not. You would need a bigger subsidy to replace over the air. Some people have no access to either cable (rural) or satellite (blocked view).
    jeffrey.denenberg@...
  • RE: Aereo outsources the TV antenna to the cloud: Is this the future of TV?

    i live in northern maine...since digital tv came out we no longer have broadcast tv.. i'd be happy to pay $12 a month for what i used to get for free..ya can't get satelite for less than $45 up here
    mfcamp@...