Can Aereo finally be the company to disrupt TV and bring cord cutting to the masses?
If you haven’t heard of Aereo before it’s probably because they’re a new company focusing on the New York metro area but it’s something you should be paying attention to. Aereo is a company that is taking over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts*** and making them available to you from anywhere via iPad, iPhone, Safari on Mac, AppleTV and Roku (Android, PC and additional device support coming this summer). From the Aereo press release today on how the service works: An Aereo consumer uses a remotely located individual antenna and DVR, so users never have to worry about installing equipment or waiting for the 'cable guy.' So what Aereo is doing is taking the trouble out of you wrangling with a OTA antenna AND giving you DVR capabilites on their end.
They’re offering this service to people in the New York City area with some pretty competivie pricing structures:
$1 day pass
$8 and $12 monthly plans
$80 annual plan
More info on their plans can be found here: https://aereo.com/plans
The age-old issue always comes down to sports and premium channels, but we’re beginning to see those services get better and better at providing content to fans. Add onto that the incredible ammount of content between Netflix, Hulu and Amazon VOD and you could hypothetically get more content from an Aereo subscription and yearly subscriptions to these services for almost less than two months worth of a cable subscription.
Of course there is a possibility of this not lasting long since the TV networks are already out to stop the company. The first attempt was thrown out of court, but there will probably be more issues and lawsuits coming up. Thankfully for Aereo, they have a huge supporter behind them in media mogul Barry Diller, which should help the company face some of these challenges.
At an $80 annual subscription for on-the-go DVR viewing and no software or hardware to mess with do you think Aereo can be the first company to really get people to give up their TV subscriptions?
***List of broadcast channels from the Aereo PR:
In New York City, there are currently 28 broadcast channels available over-the-air, including major networks such as WABC, WNBC, WCBS, WNYW-FOX, WPIX-11, WNET-PBS, and PBS Kids, special interest channels such as NYC.GOV, NYC-LIFE, Ion and Qubo, and foreign language broadcast channels such as Telemundo, Azteca, Telefutura, Univision, Sinovision, NTDTV and CGN-TV.
Link to the full PR if you want to read it: https://aereo.com/assets/marketing/mediakit/press_...
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Without major channels that people actually watch on TV, it's pointless. I realize that a lot of people might be content with NBC, ABC, PBS, etc., but that's a very small segment. Without sports channels and other paid programming, most people won't consider switching from cable, and those who don't already have cable would prefer to stream online, even if illegally, as opposed to paying for a service where you don't really get everything you want.
Still, one can always hope these things get resolved. If Aereo acquires more channels, I'd definitely sign up. As of now, I'm without cable and would definitely welcome the option.
Besides the zero setup on your end that leaves the DVR functionality as the other main desirable feature. The quality of the streams/recording leaves much to be desired. I'd say a majority of the recordings, especially ones I've scheduled recently are unwatchable. The antenas don't seem to be strong enough to get a good stream in and you end up with a blocky, semi-scrambled video. However, when you do get a good stream, it's pretty good. One caveat, for some reason, Aereo is limited to iOS devices (you can push video to a Roku with the required app or Apple TV via airplay) and has support for Safari for OSX only.
Hopefully with time all these issues will go away, but I highly doubt Aereo can acquire more channels because of the way Aereo actually works (situating a bunch of small antenas in a datacenter and allocating two per user), it can only get what's freely available on OTA broadcasts. So unless they partner up with a cable, satellite provider or one of those networks that are suing them (www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/aereo-sued-by-us...), I see it as impossible for them to get more channels. The other option is for them to actually become like a satellite provider and have deals with these networks to redirect these broadcasts, but if these networks are suing them, then it's probably something that's a long way's off.
I feel like what they're trying to do is great and pretty innovative and want them to succeed, but they have pretty large hill to climb. For those who don't have a TV, but have a compatible device, such as someone like myself, it's great if you want to watch a live event on one of the main cable channels, but if you're thinking this will replace cable service, then you're gonna have a bad time.
There sill remains more costs down the cord cutting road. If you drop your cable, fiber or satellite TV service you will have to max out your internet speed. Then will they cap your down loads?