Cable Tech

Aereo Mulling Carrier Deals?

Aereo Inc. has a new expansion plan. One month after CEO Chet Kanojia announced he'd consider cozying up to cable, The Wall Street Journal reports the New York startup has already had partnership discussions with major TV and Internet providers including AT&T Inc. and Dish Network Corp. Broadcasters are suing Aereo for bypassing retransmission fees with technology that transcodes over-the-air programming for IP distribution. However, while the court battles carry on, Aereo has remained aggressive about promoting its TV service as a less-expensive alternative to cable. Now it turns out that the company's promise of cheaper TV may not only be attractive to consumers, but a lure for service providers as well. If pay-TV providers do ally themselves with Aereo, it wouldn't be the first time the industry has partnered with a self-proclaimed cord-cutting alternative. Longtime cable enemy TiVo Inc. is now a friend to several MSOs, including Virgin Media Inc., DirecTV Group Inc., Suddenlink Communications and RCN Corp.. Still, the latest news of Aereo's partnership discussions doesn't point to any concrete deals, and the potential legal fallout ahead may keep pay-TV companies away. Savvy Aereo is driving headlines, but whether it can create a sustainable business remains to be seen. (See also: Aereo Widens Net to 19M Homes and Aereo's ISP Opportunity.) — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

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