Aereo has announced that Atlanta, Ga. will be the next market to receive its streaming TV service, with a roll out scheduled for next month.
Aereo’s service enables people to watch and record the free over-the-air local television content (from the likes of ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, CW, and other) online via desktops, computers, set-top boxes, and mobile devices. It does this by providing tiny antennae for each subscriber (thus making the service legal in the eyes of at least East Coast federal judges so far). The company recently simplified its payment model to give subscribers the option of a $8 or $12 per month plan, depending on how many hours you need to record programming.
The service is already available in New York City and Boston, but the company is planning to launch in a total of 22 markets by next year. And even with Atlanta, Aereo should still be too small to cause any real disruption to the TV industry, but that’s exactly what’s happening. Major broadcast stations have taken Aereo to court, claiming that it’s illegal for the company to provide access to its broadcasted content without paying some kind of licensing fee to them. But since federal judges have ruled on the legality of Aereo, those broadcast companies are taking drastic measures.
Both CBS and Fox’s parent company News Corp. have threatened to take its programming off the air and convert it into cable networks, while CBS has even invested in technology that would mimic Aereo’s functionality for local viewers. Recently, ABC even announced that it would be making the local broadcast streams available via iOS devices.
It’s definitely an interesting development because Aereo is still too young to determine if its got a viable business model (with customers in only a handful of cities able to subscribe to its service), but big TV companies are responding by making their services better for consumers. Aereo might be an unlikely rival, but it’s definitely driving competition.