Bolstered by a $38 million second round of financing, controversial streaming provider Aereo plans on expanding its service to 22 more cities across the nation this year.
Aereo launched its streaming service last year in New York City and was promptly sued by major broadcast networks, including News Corp., Disney and NBCUniversal, for copyright infringement. Aereo uses small antennas to give its subscribers access to over-the-air signals. It also employs a network DVR technology that lets users pause, rewind and fast-forward live or recorded programs on a home DVR.
In New York City, Aereo lets customers capture over-the-air broadcasts from 29 local channels for viewing on devices, with subscriptions starting at $8 a month. Aereo is currently supported on iPad, iPhone, Chrome, Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Apple TV and Roku.
Assuming Aereo is able to prevail in its ongoing legal battles – a cable operator executive gave the company a 50/50 chance of doing so last month – its service is also disruptive to cable operators and other video providers, especially now that Aereo has expanded its footprint.
Aereo’s service circumvents the networks’ ability to charge cable operators for their programming, while the cable operators could see even more of their video subscribers slip if Aereo resonates with consumers.
The cities slated for Aereo’s expansion are: Boston; Miami; Austin, Texas; Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Detroit; Denver; Minneapolis; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Tampa; Cleveland; Kansas City; Raleigh-‐Durham, N.C.; Salt Lake City; Birmingham, Ala.; Providence, R.I; and Madison, Wis. The expansion will get underway in late spring.
Barry Diller-backed Aereo prevailed in an early court ruling, but its legal battle is still ongoing.
“Aereo’s technology is simply one of the easiest, most convenient ways for consumers to access broadcast television,” said CEO and founder Chet Kanojia. “We’ve been working hard to bring Aereo to consumers across the country, and we’re excited to expand our reach to these 22 new cities. Consumers want and deserve choice. Watching television should be simple, convenient and rationally priced. Aereo’s technology provides exactly that: choice, flexibility and a first-class experience that every consumer deserves.”
Aereo’s expansion in the 22 cities will start in late spring. Access to Aereo will be available initially via invitation. Consumers can request invitations through the Aereo website. Aereo also plans to provide in each market its “Try for free” feature, which allows consumers the ability to access Aereo’s technology to watch television for a continuous one-hour period each day, free of charge.