None of the legal moves around disruptive television company Aereo have been an injunction. The service launched today, on schedule, providing live HD TV to the internet-connected devices owned by an invited set of New York City customers.
Few doubted Aereo would go live unless blocked by the court. It has much deeper pockets than most previous attempts to shake up the television business using the web, having raised $20.5 million in financing from IAC/Interactive along with FirstMark Capital and First Round Capita a month ago.
It’s also got the support of IAC’s Barry Diller. He brings with him a lifetime of insider’s knowledge about the entertainment industry, having among other things created Fox Broadcasting as a successful challenger to the then-dominant three networks, along with a temperament suited to taking on whatever the lawyers may throw at him.
There are some intriguing differences between Aereo’s $12 monthly service and the companies being cited as precedent, which will factor into what the lawyers argue on both sides. Zediva was based on streaming from DVDs rather than over-the-air TV, and ivi TV contends that it qualifies to pay the compulsory TV license fees for the station it carries.
Aereo, in contrast, literally has a separate over-the-air antenna for each user – as though everyone in a giant apartment complex had their own TV antenna, and they were all clustered together on the roof – with the internet replacing all those individual wires. Each of these Aereo antennas are tiny, only about the size of an industrial staple (see photo). More details are in the company’s countersuit, which is posted below.
Subscribers get access live 24/7 broadcasts of the major networks and local stations, a cloud-based DVR-type service, a searchable program guide, and integrated social capabilities like Facebook and Twitter.
In a company blog post, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia (pictured) said, “The idea that consumers are going to use the Internet for most things, including accessing live television, is inevitable. It is just a question of time. We think the time is now.”
Aereo press release – http://tinyurl.com/7u398g9
Broadcasting & Cable – Aereo Answers Broadcasters’ Lawsuit