Those of us that follow tech history often compare cord cutting as the video equivalent of what happened to music. Napster, which ran between 1999 and 2001, challenged the industry by offering free downloads of single songs. Legal battles eventually shut this service down. Even though Napster itself did not survive it had a major impact. The consumer became less willing to pay for an entire album of songs when all they wanted was one or two tracks.
Cord cutters today are still somewhat on the fringe. And this is because we have no really perfect solution to unbundling the channel line up. But imagine if you could simply check a box on your Comcast channel guide and create your own mini channel plan.
Now along comes Aereo , a new service just launched in NYC that streams all the local television stations “NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, FOX, CW & over 20 local channels” to the internet. For $12 per month you get all these channels plus the ability to record these shows, and to make it even better this is with no equipment to install. The DVR is apparently an in the cloud type feature. Wow! If lived in New York City I’d gladly pay $12 to try this.
Meanwhile back to my comparison. All this is not happening without a fight. Aereo is already being sued by several broadcasters. But the service has launched – on March 14 and with a free 90 day trial no less ! Similar to what happened with Napster, if consumers get used to the idea of this mini-channel lineup for $12, a lot of them may defect from Cable.
If Aereo takes off, even with all this legal noise in the background, it might be the major event that pushes the industry to offer scalable or a la carte channel lineups for less.
An interesting side note is that this free 90 day trail requires an invitation. I doubt they will accept my San Diego area code so I’ll just have to wait to see if Aereo survives long enough to hit the west coast. I’d love to have feedback from any New York residents that sign up. For a free 90 day HDTV trial I don’t see you have anything to lose.