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Aereo re-tools pricing plan ahead of Boston launch

Mon, 05/13/2013 - 12:22pm
Mike Robuck

Ahead of its launch in Boston on Wednesday, Internet TV startup Aereo announced today that it that it had restructured its pricing plan for new customers.

Under the new format, Aereo will charge $8 per month to use its antenna/DVR technology with 20 hours of DVR storage. Customers that need more cloud-based DVR storage space can pay a total of $12 per month for 60 hours. Aereo touted the new “streamlined” pricing plan as easier for customers to understand and manage since it doesn’t require a long-term commitment and eliminated previous annual and day plans.

As an enticement to try the service, all new Aereo consumers will receive their first month of membership for free, with full-featured functionality, allowing consumers to record and watch live TV or save recordings for later viewing. Aereo said there was no commitment and consumers could cancel at any time during the free month. 

"We looked at our data and it was clear, consumers want a more simple approach to pricing," said Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia.  "With our new pricing structure, consumers begin with one base plan and then have the ability to upgrade their membership to triple their DVR storage capacity. We want to make it simple and easy for consumers to access our technology and we believe this updated pricing plan accomplishes just that."

While the new pricing plan applies to new Aereo customers, current Aereo users can continue to use their original plans until they expire. Existing customers that pay $12 per month members will be automatically upgraded to 60 hours of DVR storage capacity. 

Aereo announced last month that it would launch its service in the Boston area on May  15, which will mark the company’s first foray out of the New York City area. Boston will be the first city to launch in Aereo’s 22-city expansion that was announced in January

On Wednesday, customers in Boston who have pre-registered with Aereo will get a “special invitation” to be among the first to receive Aereo’s service. After May 30, Aereo will make membership available across the Boston area, which includes more than 4.5 million customers in 16 counties in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Consumers can request invitations through the Aereo website

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. Earlier this year, a federal court of appeals affirmed a federal district court’s earlier decision to deny broadcasters’ request for a preliminary injunction against Aereo. 

Last week, Aereo filed a complaint in a federal court in Manhattan that sought to prove that its technology didn’t infringe  on CBS Corp.'s copyrights or federal copyright law.

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves has threatened further lawsuits against Aereo, and said that his company might offer a similar service as a way to undercut Aereo.

On Tuesday ABC will launch a live streaming service in New York and Philadelphia that will feature its entire programming lineup. ABC’s streaming service will initially be available to all of the viewers in those two markets, but after six weeks it will only be available to authenticated cable subscribers. ABC’s service will initially work with Apple iOS devices.

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