Kyle J. Steenblik

AEREO expands into the Silicon Slopes

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aereo_logoAereo is coming to Utah.  This is very good news for broadcast television and those consumers that watch local broadcast channels.

Aereo is a service that lets you watch live, and recorded broadcast television channels over your internet or wireless network connection.  Essentially, it is like having a television antenna in the cloud, not the big white things, the internet computing cloud.  That is also, where their DVR is based.  If you understand what that means congratulations, you caught on a little faster than I did.  If you didn’t understand, exactly what that implies let me explain.  Anything cloud based lives online and is accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.  The implication of having a DVR on the cloud is you will be able to access your recorded shows anywhere you have an internet connection.  (Currently with this service that is limited to the current service area due to broadcast, network, and retransmission limitations)  The implications of having a television antenna on the cloud is the ability to tune in to any live broadcast anywhere (within the service area) you have an internet connection.  I hope that that clears that part up.

In the Salt Lake City market they will have all 29 local broadcast channels available, plus Bloomberg news.  The service is currently available through any HTML5 supporting web browser (Firefox, Chrome, and IE), any iOS device, and Roku devices.  Currently an android application is in testing and is expected later this summer or fall, as well as an application for the Chromecast.

aereo_antenna_array1I had a chance to take a look at this service last night and I was definitely impressed.  It fills a niche in the market that I think is quickly growing.  Right now the only way to access over the air channels is with an HDTV and antenna, a digital converter, or though your cable/satellite provider.  Satellite and cable providers have been fighting with broadcasters for years over rebroadcast fees and rights.  Often leading to those providers dropping the service all together, leaving customers out in the cold.  The individual networks have been slow to provide content to streaming services such as Hulu, or providing the content themselves, presumably for fear of losing revenue from advertisers.  This solves that problem in a pretty significant way.  Not only do you not need to go through your cable or satellite providers (if you have them), you don’t have to wait for the networks to post shows to third parties (if they do), and you don’t need to be tied to a single device plugged into your wall.

The user interface is very clean, and simple to use.  The DVR functions just as any other DVR; you can record the show that is on next, all the new shows, or all the shows.  As a standard feature, the subscription comes with 20 hours of cloud based DVR storage a month.  You can upgrade that to 60 hours, and two tuners.  Again, cloud based DVR, which means you can pick it up anywhere within the service area, that service area being the state of Utah currently.

aereo_antennaIt all looks, and sounds cool, but what impressed me, was not what is currently available, but what will be, or what could be.  This level of technology has the ability to grow and transform this market in the same way Netflix is helping transform the television and film distribution system.  However, Netflix is an archival system, a library of content.  They have yet, and I don’t believe it is within their capabilities to offer any live content.

With each subscription, you will be assigned a dedicated antenna.  The content picked up by that antenna will not be shared, meaning the entire capacity of that antenna is yours, you don’t have to share bandwidth with any other users.  Those antenna by the way, are very cool, about the size of a dime each, meaning they can pack thousands into a small package, which you never even  have to see.  Which is a little unfortunate because I wouldn’t mind seeing them.

You can pre-register now on service begins in Utah on August  19th, starting at $8 a month

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