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August 2nd 2012 12:38 pm

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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7 replies

I've been using Aereo for a few months now. While great idea, the execution is not there yet. The number of channels is very limited. The only channels that I'd say are worth watching, NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS and PBS are all available free and doesn't require that much hardware (you only need a TV and an HD antena) and if you're located in NYC, which this service is currently limited to, then you'll probably get some decent reception with an antena.

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.
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I live in the Los Angeles area and I've been watching to see if Aereo lives thru the initial attacks by the broadcasters. Then if they make it there they can make it anywhere, right? Seriously though, if they come to LA I think I'd be interested because even if you have a good antenna and line of site to Mount Wilson (LAs highest antenna farm) the digital signals don't have the power that the old analogs had. So getting all the stations can still be edgy with a fine antenna and then recording is going to require purchasing a box from El Gato or Tivo. Free TV just seems to be only a memory of my childhood. So $80 a year sounds good to me, but...
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?
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Why would you need to max out your internet speed? Aereo allows you to select the quality of the feed which will help control bandwidth and even still a 20-30Mbps connection for home is more than adequate to support this and other services happening. Yes the monthly cost might go up on your internet speed but when cord cutting is more about long term and that 50-80/month can go a long way.
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I would consider it if I didn't watch any sports. But not having access to YES, MSG and a couple of the other cable sports channels would be a real problem. I could probably get by without any of the other cable channels, since so much programming is now available on Amazon, iTunes and elsewhere (a season pass for Breaking Bad is $38.99 on Amazon. for example), but only having access to games that are on local channels (or dealing with the blackout restrictions of services like MLB.tv) have kept me paying for cable.
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I live outside Boston so I can't try it, but I love this idea. I have a Mohu Leaf antenna and the reason I haven't gotten much use out of it is the lack of DVR capability. This is a fantastic idea and I hope it grows fast!
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Simply put, nope.

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.
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The new pricing options make it easier to give Aereo a try, but they don't address any of the criticisms they had with lackluster video quality and the near-requirement of an iPad if you want to Aereo on your TV

- Sara
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