Aereo is a great service for denizens of New York City. For $12 per month, you get to stream local live TV direct to your iPad, iPhone, Roku box, Apple TV, or just about anything with an internet connection. It’s simple, it does nothing but relay the free-to-air channels already available to any New Yorker, and of course the TV companies are already trying to shut it down.
Aereo works like this: When you sign up, Aereo assigns you a tiny coin-sized antenna which it connects to the internet. You visit the site (it’s browser based), choose a channel and watch the shows. That’s it. Well, that’s almost it: you can also record shows to watch later. But that hasn’t stopped “two groups of broadcasters” from filing federal lawsuits agains Aereo, barely weeks after its launch. How depressingly inevitable.
Here’s where I would usually go on a rant about idiotic, backward-looking companies abusing the law to protect their broken business models. So I will. In this case it’s particularly stupid, as the Aereo streams are the exact same thing you’d get if you were watching live TV on your TV, including the ads.
This is, of course, the problem. The TV channels don’t just want you to see the ads. They want to know how many people are watching so that they can charge the advertisers correctly. What’s that you say? Surely Aereo would be able to supply accurate information on just what channels are being watched, and when? Well yes, it could, but the TV companies don’t like accurate data. They like the nice, vague, easy to fudge Nielsen ratings.
For its part, Aereo is banking on the fact that customers are essentially watching live TV via antenna, albeit an antenna connected via IP stream rather than a wire.
So, New Yorkers, what are you waiting for? Sign up or request an invite for the free trial, sit back, relax, and simultaneously stick it to the Man.