Aerero hits the airwaves
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 12:01 am
By: Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer
By ANICK JESDANUN
AP Technology Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Broadcast networks make many of their shows available on the Internet, but you usually have to wait at least a day after an episode airs on television. A subscription service called Aereo breaks those shackles and makes network programs available right away.
That sounds too good to be true, and in a sense it is. First, it works only in New York City for now, though Aereo said it will expand to 22 more U.S. cities this spring. Its channel selection is limited to 29 over-the-air channels and Bloomberg TV. It doesn’t include the other cable networks I frequently watch.
The biggest caveat is the fact that broadcast networks are suing to shut it down.
Aereo is no fly-by-night pirate operation. The startup is backed by big money and a big name — media billionaire Barry Diller. Aereo believes what it is doing is legal. It has created tiny antennas, each the size of a dime. The company stuffs thousands of them into small boxes at its data center in Brooklyn.
When you’re ready to watch a show, you are assigned one of those antennas, as if you had your own antenna on your roof. You get a second one, too, if you want to record something to watch later. You can also record both shows for later. Shows you watch live or record for later viewing are streamed over the Internet to a Web browser.
A day pass costs $1 and gives you 10 days to watch up to three hours of recorded shows. You can pay $8 a month for unlimited live viewing and 20 hours of storage, or $12 for 40 hours. Or you can pay $80 for a full year and 40 hours.
Service is now available on Mac and Windows computers, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV and Roku’s set-top box. The company says access on Android devices should come this year. You can watch on up to five devices, meaning you can start watching on your desktop at home and continue where you left off on an iPhone while waiting for the bus.
Aereo isn’t an on-demand service. So if you hadn’t recorded a show, you can’t go back to watch it. That’s where Hulu comes in. It typically offers the past five episodes of shows from NBC, ABC, Fox and the CW. Where Aereo is particularly useful is in filling the gaps — CBS and PBS, plus local programs such as the news.