As television begins the slow but inevitable conversion from traditional airtime to digital, on-demand services through devices like Apple TV and Roku, the one issue it faces is how to deliver things like local news or live on-air programming like sporting events. For now, if you don't have cable and want to catch a local channel, you have to have an antennae, just like in the old days. But one company is hoping to change all that, assuming they can survive the lawsuits.
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Aereo provides a rather innovative solution to this pretty basic issue. Using an Apple TV or Roku device, you can access the Aereo network, which is connected to data centers in various cities. (Locations in Texas including Houston will be available this spring.) In these data centers, Aereo has literally thousands of tiny antennae, which customers access while using the service.
By setting up antennae and simply collecting broadcast signals from the air, Aereo believes it has circumvented broadcast copyright infringement, but that hasn't stopped every major broadcast network from suing them. So far, the courts have found in their favor, but they face a long road. Fortunately for them, it hasn't stopped investors from dropping $38 million in capital investments into the company coffers.
The service subscription rates run as little as $1 for a one-day rental, which could be good for watching the local broadcast of, for example, a Texans game when you are on the road. Their service is compatible with most smartphones and tablets. You can also pay by the month with higher costs (up to $12 per month or $80 annually) for 24/7 access and as much as 40 hours of DVR storage so you can store episodes of your favorite shows recorded right from your local networks. And because the service offers pause, rewind and fast forward, it operates just like a traditional DVR.
It's a pretty fascinating concept that could benefit those who have abandoned cable for streaming, but still would like to see broadcast network television shows and local programming.