What is Aereo: Cord Cutter’s Dream or Flash in the Pan?

There has been a lot of press lately on a newly emerging service called Aereo. Essentially Aereo takes live local broadcasts and streams them to the  internet. The good news is the price – only $12 per month. Thad bad news: only the major networks, and only in New York City.

What is strange about Aereo is how it works. To get around sticky legal issues they’ve created thousands of tiny (finger tip size) antennas. One for each subscriber. And because each subscriber gets his own antenna that is supposed to be some kind of legal loophole around redistribution limitations.

Picking up the local off-air signals on one big master antenna system is actually how Cable TV got started. So in a way this is back to the future. A new simple Cable operator with just the basics.

So why do I doubt it will survive? Two reasons. Cable operators and media outles in NYC are not likely to sit still and watch their business models get picked apart by this upstart. Expect legal battles galore and indeed these have already started.

But lets just say Aereo wins in court. What next? Wouldn’t the established distribution companies simply jump in with competing plans of their own? They already have the infrastructure and the subscribers.  Of course a lot of this is timing. Netflix killed Blockbuster by tapping into customer displeasure with the fee and fine model imposed. If everything goes just right maybe Aereo will take off.

As cord cutters we wish them at least partial success. Because if Aereo does do well, it undoubtedly pushes us one step closer to the holy grail of everything a la carte.

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