Aereo, which offers a disruptive new way to watch TV, gained more traction this week by offering its first cable channel in addition to its existing over-the-air service.
If you’re unfamiliar with Aereo, the company uses dime-size antennas to stream live television to your phone or tablet and lets you record shows on a remote DVR. The service, available for $1 a day or $8/month, is only available in New York while the company battles copyright claims from NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Aereo has added its first cable channel, Bloomberg TV. The channel covers financial issues and is owned by Bloomberg LP, the large data and media company owned by the mayor of New York City. The Journal says Aereo is reportedly paying Bloomberg to transmit the channel.
The significance of the cable deal is two-fold. First, it adds more content to Aereo’s offerings which for now consist of only over-the-air TV. Bloomberg TV is not exactly ESPN but it does show potential Aereo customers the company is serious about expanding.
Second, the Bloomberg deal is a minor PR coup for Aereo which, in its short life, has been tarred by the broadcasters as a rogue and a pirate (Aereo disputes this, saying the service is like regular TV due to the fact each viewer has their own antenna). It’s hard to know what’s going on behind the scenes — if the broadcasters truly want to nuke Aereo or if instead the companies are haggling over licensing fees. For now, though, the cable deal is a small victory for Aereo.