Good news for avid TV watchers and bad news for broadcast executives. Aereo, a service which allows users to watch and record live broadcast TV online, launched this past Tuesday for Android users. Basically, Aereo has set up receivers in select cities, and is streaming broadcast TV online, over the phone, and on Roku for $8 monthly.
I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I think of this first? Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO, is sitting on a gold mine, not creating any original content of his own, mining the airwaves, and providing cloud storage to hook users.
As you’d imagine, the big four are not taking this sitting down. Claiming that Aereo is circumventing copyright laws, they’ve petitioned the US Supreme court, the only branch of the government that seems to have made any decisions in the past year, yet don’t seem to be gaining much traction.
The courts don’t see anything illegal with Aereo’s business model, and it looks as if Aereo is going to stick around.
So, being a newly initiated Android user myself (sorry, Steve Jobs), and because I live in one of the initial 6 areas that offer this service (as a spring breaking Jesse Pinkman would say: “I’m in Miami…. BITCH!”), I decided to sign up for the free month.
Running the app for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were 31 channels available to me. However, I hadn’t heard of most of the non-big-four-affiliated channels.
One of those channels was SoaC, an evangelical Christian channel that was airing a children’s show by the name of BJ’s Teddy Bear Hour (Google it). What transpired before my eyes proved to be a fairly surreal experience; an eerily voiced Teddy Bear was recounting the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah (again, Google it).
After the PTSD flashbacks associated with childhood schooling subsided (ie. after I was able get out of a fetal position), I decided to view tamer programming like NBC’s Today, PBS’s Sesame Street, CBS’s Let’s Make a Deal, and Bloomberg’s live coverage of a committee hearing on the status of healthcare.gov.
The only bad thing I noticed was that the first 5 seconds of streaming a new channel are always a bit choppy. Other than that, picture quality is clear and fluid, comparable to watching cable, much better than watching over an antenna. I was even able to pause and record, as promised.
Although I was pleasantly surprised by this app, I’m not sure I will be paying $8 monthly to continue this service. Perhaps when Aereo adds more channels, I’ll be tempted. This service is geared toward those who watch local sports and local news and is ideal for Spanish speakers who want Univision, Telemundo, etc. who don’t want to pay top dollar for superfluous channels that cable companies love to bundle in.
Overall, it’s a great idea, if only for the capability to watch local TV on a new device.