Can Aereo become the next player in the broadcast business?
It was a sad day when television switched from analog to digital. People had to go out and buy antennas and converter boxes just to watch basic television that had been free forever. Those antennas were never quite reliable, though, and while cable was more consistent, it was also more costly.
"Aereo is the easiest way for consumers to watch and record broadcast TV online without a subscription," says Aereo spokesperson Virginia Lam. "It's a twenty-first century update on the old fashion antennae."
Aereo works on iPhone, iPad, Roku, Apple TV, computers and Android devices, capturing captures antenna signals over the air and sending them through the Internet. By using cloud technology, users can store up to sixty hours of programming through the built-in DVR feature.
"Consumers have long been fenced into outdated technology and have long felt that they haven't had a choice when it comes to watching television," says Lam. "And Aereo's innovation on the antenna is really important when it comes to consumers and providing them with an alternative."
The company started developing the technology in 2010; in February 2012 it was ready to launch by invitation-only in New York City. This past January, Aereo embarked on its mission to serve 22 areas by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Denver is the ninth city in the country to have the service.
The rollout has not been without problems, including legal troubles with other broadcast companies. Since its launch, Aereo has been charged with four counts of copyright infringement in New York, Massachusetts and Utah. Each time, the courts have decided in favor of Aereo. "At four separate points Aereo has prevailed, and we remain confident in our technology," says Lam. "Our technology is designed to comply with the law."
Aereo is very simple to use, and only costs $8 a month for twenty 20 hours of DVR space, or $12 for sixty hours. It receives all basic local channels -- about 26 in the Denver area -- and all signals are broadcast in HD.
"Fundamentally, Aereo is an antenna technology and what we've been able to do with the antenna is innovate it," explains Lam. "Make it smaller, make it more sophisticated, and put it in the cloud. Harness the power of cloud technology and the Internet to provide competition choice and alternatives for the consumer."