Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to watch network TV when, where, and how you want and piss offnetwork TV for good measure.

Aereo.  A name most average consumers have never heard but shout that name at an executive from a TV network and watch them try to shoot lasers from their eyes and melt you where you stand.  Aereo is a huge change in where, when, and how consumers can watch TV and if there is anything TV networks hate, is change.  Why?  Because the old TV and distribution model hasn't changed much at in the past 60 years but the amount of money they make has gone up year after year in those 60 years.  So while consumers who are fed up with TV and cable knowing something is broken, TV and cable don't think it's broke and they NEVER want it fixed.

Aereo is a startup company that broadcasts network TV (NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, etc) to your home computer, laptop, and mobile devices over a wifi or cellular data connection.  While this might not seem like a big deal, it also allows you to DVR shows as well so you can skip commercials (que the pissed off TV executives) like TiVo and Boxee do WITHOUT you having to put up with another set top box in your home.  Why is network TV mad at this? Because TV networks make their money two ways:  advertising and rebroadcasting fees (what cable companies pay to have ABC, NBC, etc to come through the cable in the wall) and Aereo has legally managed to get around both. With DVR technology you get to skip commercials and when network TV took Aereo to court, they lost with a ruling from a judge a few months ago in the state of New York stating that Aereo is not rebroadcasting TV but doing the same thing you and I already do which is receiving it free through the air.  What Aereo is charging the consumer for is a crystal clear signal on any device of your choosing and a DVR service to record and watch you shows at your choosing.  This is a big problem for network TV.  So big of a problem that the head of CBS, Lesile Moonves, threatened to pull CBS as a network broadcaster and be only available through cable providers.  CEO of Fox, Rupert Murdoch has said the same but neither company has shown signs of moving yet.

So what innovation of technology has Aereo come up with to start to worry the TV industry. They shrank the antenna to the size of a dime, boosted more power through it, found space in each city they receive signal in (currently New York City and Boston), and put thousands of them on them on the roof of the their building.  Each micro antenna is capable of scanning a broad spectrum to pick up signals network TV sends so there is no need to fumble with rabbit ears and move them to come up with a better signal.  As long as their antenni are in range of broadcasting signal, you receive that same signal as clear as they do.  With the app you download for free, you can sign up for Aereo's service ($8 for 20 hours  or $12 for 60 hours of DVR service) and DVR any of your favorite network TV shows.  The only catch is you can't sign up for a city unless it is already in your coverage area.  So if you live in Buffalo you still can't sign up for New York City but if you live just outside NYC, you can sign up for it.  The good news is they are expanding, slowly, and currently available in NYC and Boston.

Only time and the court (and court of appeals) systems will tell if this will be available in the future but one thing is for sure, if this does become available in my coverage area, it's worth giving a try, especially with a free month of sign up.

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