Aereo, Internet-Streaming Technologies, Scares the Pants Off the Pay-TV Industry
Aereo’s new HDTV antenna has the potential of changing the way we receive news and entertainment that we normally would receive only through pay-tv or satellite.
The antenna receives and records programs with a resolution of 720p HD, and then Aereo streams the live broadcasts that you subscribe to over the Internet. You can view the broadcast on a desktop computer, a mobile device, or simply record the program to view later.
I remember back when an antenna was necessary to view TV. At that time, it was free. A television network’s income depended solely on selling blocks of commercial advertising time. No cable fees, only commercials, a good indoor VHF/UHF antenna aka “rabbit ears” was all one needed. VHF picked up channels 2-13 and UHF picked up channels 14-51. But that was it, no 500 or so channels from which to choose.
But in 2009, television networks stopped broadcasting in analog and switched to digital cable or satellite. Digital broadcasting promised clearer pictures and greater programming options. The switch also meant an additional revenue stream for broadcasters. The networks looked forward to revenue from advertising and also revenue for viewing content.
So, with this new technology, it’s easy to understand why it’s scaring the pants off the cable companies. They have enjoyed double dipping from the advertisements already paid for in the market place while we pay to view their programming as well. Now, all of that is in jeopardy — and they don’t like it.
They have charged Aereo with copyright infringement, but so far, Aereo has won in court. Meantime, Aereo is forging ahead, offering their service to other cities outside of their New York base where they have been operating for about a year.
In May, Aereo offered their service to the Boston market. Boston Globe’s tech writer Hiawatha Bray says, “The service works so well, it’s scary.”
Aereo will bring their service to 29 counties in Utah in August.
Subscribers rent a half dollar size antenna that attaches to an Aereo data center computer. Aereo’s antenna cost $8 a month for 20 hours and $12 per month for 60 hours of DVR program storage. They also offer a 30-day free trial. The service only works if the antenna is located within broadcast range, therefore Aereo’s services are only available from local television stations.
In the end, it’s about competing with traditional cable and satellite pay-tv. Aereo, newly launched Google’s Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku, are all significant threats to the pay-tv industry.
It will be interesting to see just how these new internet-streaming technologies will evolve and come together. Will it change the television industry? No matter what way it all turns out, hopefully these new technologies will at least bring improvements for viewers.