Light Reading

Aereo App for Chromecast Due This Month

Mari Silbey

The first quarter of 2014 has been a roller-coaster ride for Aereo. On the up side, the streaming video company has now launched in more than a dozen markets and is planning to introduce an app for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Chromecast "in the next couple of weeks" according to Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, in an interview with Engadget at SXSW in Austin, Texas, this past weekend.

Kanojia was highly optimistic about his company's future and ready to talk about where the startup is headed next. According to Kanojia, in addition to Chromecast support, his team is also working on two app updates scheduled for this month and the middle of April, and on creating apps for smart TV platforms. Support for game consoles such as Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's Playstation are not on the development agenda yet, but Kanojia isn't ruling them out as targets for the future.

The good news on Aereo Inc. 's development side, however, comes even as the company's technical challenges mount, and Aereo's legal future remains uncertain. Aereo suffered a system crash on the night of the Oscars (an issue that the upcoming app updates are meant to help address), and recently had to halt new customer sign-ups in New York and Atlanta due to a capacity crunch. Aereo has since reopened service at least in New York to consumers who were already on a wait list, but the problem indicates that the company may have difficulty scaling as its customer base grows. (See Aereo Hits Capacity Crunch Again .)

And then there are Aereo's legal problems. Shortly after the company went live in Austin on March 3, it had to shut off service in the Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colo. regions because of a preliminary injunction handed down by the US District Court of Utah. More importantly, the company is scheduled to face off against broadcasters in the US Supreme Court on April 22. Kanojia claims not to be worried, but that court decision could mean life or death for Aereo. (See Aereo Injunction Sets Stage for Supremes.)

This is a critical time for the streaming video company. It could be that Aereo has timed things well (like Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) once did), building up enough credibility and customer clout to ride out the many challenges still ahead. Or it could be that Aereo is about to run out of luck. If the Supreme Court decides against Aereo, the company's new Chromecast app could be very short-lived.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/14/2014 | 5:08:04 PM
Re: Aereo
danielcawrey - "I really do believe that what Aereo is doing is unfair to broadcasters."

Free-market creative destruction is always unfair to incumbents. That's how free markets work. 

Like the science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein said way back in 1939:

There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

User Rank: Light Sabre
3/12/2014 | 4:12:18 PM
Complaints about OTA TV?
I wish Aereo had service in my city... but I wonder how the "digital TV transistion" occurred without massive complaints? I tried cutting the cord only to find out that digital over the air TV signals are far less reliable than I remember they were when I was a kid. You used to be able to get a snowy picture and tolerable audio even if you didn't have your TV rabbit ears plugged in. Now, with digital TV signals, if you don't get perfect reception, you either get a totally blank screen or some really annoying pixelated video with audio that cuts in and out so much that you can't understand what anyone is saying.

How does Aereo deal with flaky OTA reception? Do they put their datacenter at the center of all the broadcasting antennas? Or since they have a gazillion reception antennas -- is there some fancy signal processing that makes the signal better than a single average household antenna's reception? (I am doubtful that they can do much signal processing, tho, because that would further impact their "rebroadcasting" license loophole.)

In lieu of Aereo... I'd just like someone to create an inexpensive antenna that receives OTA TV signals reliably.

Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/11/2014 | 8:56:33 PM
Re: Aereo
I wonder if Congress could simply pass a law making Aero's business model illegal. And I wonder why they haven't.
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/11/2014 | 1:48:58 PM
Re: Aereo
Ths case will certainly set a precedent in a very shape-shifting industry. I really do believe that what Aereo is doing is unfair to broadcasters. But broadcasters need to understand that the way forward is thinking about doing what Aereo has done and build digital networks.

There's no sense fighting the digital shift!
User Rank: Blogger
3/10/2014 | 9:12:13 PM
Re: Aereo
I guess they might as well keep pushing into new markets and coming up with new products until someone says stop. I used to think it would be better for them to lie low on the radar until legal issues pass, but maybe it's better to as many people as possible interested.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/10/2014 | 8:55:30 PM
Re: Aereo
I'm fascinated by the legal implications of Aero. Its entire business model and technology are designed solely to flagrantly violate the spirit of IP law while scrupulously obeying the letter.

I hope it survives long enough to come to San Diego.
User Rank: Light Beer
3/10/2014 | 8:16:41 PM
I have never heard of this so I just looked it up. I hope they can get by the legal hurdles because I would be very interested in using this service. It is listed as coming soon to my area.
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