Influential media businessman Barry Diller was on hand today for the debut of new startup Aereo TV, a streaming video service that aims to steal consumers away from the expensive cable and satellite television providers.
Aereo allows users to view a live stream of programming from major TV broadcast networks (including ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and desktop computers via Aereo’s HTML5 website. The service, which will cost $12 per month, has a DVR function to record up to 40 hours of content that people can watch whenever they want.
To comply with distribution and copyright laws, Aereo employs a tiny HD antenna for each user to pull the broadcast TV signal in. The service is only available in New York City and will launch March 14. No word if the company will branch out into other markets, but we expect that they will.
Aereo “pries over-the-air broadcast television out of that closed system” that forces people to rely on either cable TV providers or an HD antenna tethered to a single television set for access to live programming, Diller told the New York Times.
As the former head of several major TV networks, Diller’s comments are interesting, but it’s unknown how well the service will fare against competitors. The new startup seems to be making the case that with Aereo and Netflix, you can finally cut the cord, but there are plenty of other factors to consider.
First of all big cable and satellite TV service providers are striving to provide subscribers with more live TV/TV anywhere offerings. And Aereo also isn’t able to offer the level of sports programing or premium channels like HBO. Aereo may also find itself in competition with Boxee, which recently launched a Live TV tuner stick that allows owners of its Boxee Box set-top box to access the same HD broadcast networks. Boxee is also rumored to be plotting a DVR service very similar to what Aereo will offer.
During the launch press conference, Aereo didn’t make mention of the recent FCC pleas by major media companies to encrypt those HD broadcast stations so that they couldn’t be used by many third-party devices or services.
Aereo TV is backed by Diller’s IAC digital media company, which also owns College Humor, Vimeo, Ask.com, and other notable web properties. The company led a $20.5 million round of funding for Aereo in 2011, according to the NYT report.
[Photo of Diller via Aereo’s Instagram account]