6 Comments

Summary:

Aereo, which offers a controversial way to watch TV on the go, says users can record more shows than ever before. The extra storage appears to be part of Aereo’s effort to stay in the news while broadcasters try to shut it down.

Gossip Girl on Aereo on iPad
photo: Aereo

Aereo, the service that lets people watch TV on their Apple devices, appears intent on thumbing its nose at the broadcasters that are trying to sue it out of existence. Last week, Aereo announced an aggressive new pricing strategy and, today, it told some subscribers they will be able to record twice as much TV.

In an email, Aereo said “we are permanently expanding your DVR storage to 80 hours – at no additional cost.” The company also promised subscribers that it would soon add additional features to make it easier to manage their virtual DVRs. The storage announcement comes after Aereo last week announced a $1/day pricing option and free one-hour trials.

[Clarification: an Aereo spokesperson wrote to clarify that the offer was not an across the board offer but "a special thank you to that select group of members that joined in our earliest days."]

Aereo uses tiny antennas to capture over-the-air signals and transmit them to subscribers’ Apple devices (like the iPad and the iPhone) for around $12/month. Reports say Aereo will become available on other platforms like Android and Chrome in coming weeks.

The service, which amounts to a portable TV and DVR unit, is for now available only in New York City. But company executives say they plan to roll it out in other cities.

The upstart company, backed by media mogul Barry Diller, is locked in a fierce battle with Fox, ABC and other broadcasters who say it is illegally rebroadcasting their signals. Aereo argues that its one antenna to one subscriber ratio means it is not broadcasting to the public and therefore not violating copyright law. (see here for the legal details).

Aereo won the first round in the skirmish after a federal judge refused last month to grant the broadcasters a temporary injunction.

  1. “Aereo argues that its one antenna to one subscriber ratio means it is not broadcasting to the public and therefore not violating copyright law.”

    Uh-uh, they have 10,000 antennas connected to 10,000 subscribers but they’re not broadcasting to the public. And New York City doesn’t have subways, either.

    Share
    1. Martin Focazio Tuesday, August 7, 2012

      I absolutely love this hack – it’s an engineering kluge, but it’s legally brilliant.

      Share
  2. ChickenLittle Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    I think the thing that is going to get them is the fact that the antennas are leased. They don’t have 10,000 antennas for 10,000 subscribers. They are gambling that they won’t ever have all 10,000 subscribers logged in wanting to watch live TV at any one time. And it’s not really the antennas that matter, it’s the tuners.

    I would say if they had 10,000 subscribers with 10,000 tuners and 10,000 Slingboxes, then the service is completely legit. For right now, I would guess that they are safe on the hardware to subscriber ratio. The question is does this constitute rebroadcasting once they start having more subscribers.

    Share
    1. Laughing_Boy48 Tuesday, August 7, 2012

      Is there any way the networks would be able to accurately check when those hardware limits are exceeded by the number of subscribers using the service at any one time?

      Share
    2. A cable company may have their system connected to X number of customers, and Aereo may have their system connected to Y number of customers. Y may be a smaller number of customers than X, but both operations are receiving broadcast signals and sending them out to the public. Both operations are violating the copyright laws but the cable companies pay the broadcasters compensation for what they’re doing, so the broadcasters leave them alone. Aereo does not pay the broadcasters, so the broadcasters are suing Aereo. I believe it’s as simple as that.

      Share
  3. Great points….anyone have any thoughts on NimbleTV…which doesn’t bypass cable operators?

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post