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Sunday, January 13, 2013
Aereo: An Industry Disrupter!
Aereo, the ambitious New York start-up that pipes live broadcast television to mobile phones, tablets and Web browsers, has so far been available to customers only in its hometown. Now fresh off of their CES announcement from Chet Kanojia, Aereo’s founder and chief executive where they have recently closed a $38 million round of financing that will be used to roll out its service to 22 additional cities across the country, including Austin, Tex., Boston and Miami, beginning this spring. So how did Aereo strike deals with all of the networks, and every local station in each one of these markets? It seems like an impossible challenge, particularly for a startup but they had a clever solution: They didn’t bother. Instead, they erect an array containing thousands of micro-antennas (see below) in every city. Each Aereo subscriber has exclusive, private access to one antenna. Amazingly enough, this makes it all perfectly legal (from their perspective at least).
Obviously the company has its challenges from broadcasters who are eager to shut the company down, contending that it violates copyright law. We all realize it's a money thing and personally as a cable subscriber paying way too much for monthly service, I know a large amount of my bill goes to broadcasters who give their service away for free to those with an antenna. Why because I choose to have access to cable programming should I now also pay the broadcasters for theirs? They have [broadcast] spectrum. They are required to program in the public interest and to offer it widely for free. This is a David and Goliath fight for sure but for that, I highly respect scrappy Aereo, just for the sheer guts of the undertaking.