For all of the ink spent on Aereo (and I’m responsible for my fair share), the relatively quiet efforts of Mohu could end up being just as disruptive to the TV service market. Mohu has already had a successful run with its line of over-the-air TV antennas, but the company is ready to take its technology a step further. As Janko points out over at GigaOM, Mohu has just completed a Kickstarter campaign to help with the development of a new product called the Channels TV adapter. The adapter will combine OTA channels fed through an HD antenna (bought separately) with web video apps like Netflix and Hulu, and it will offer a personalized program guide including any channels and apps a user wants to highlight.
If Mohu can deliver a clean experience with the new Channels TV adapter – and that’s certainly a big if, particularly when it comes to switching between OTA and web content – the company will have a very compelling product offering. For the contingent of TV viewers who want broadcast TV and their $8 Netflix subscription, the Mohu device will put all of that content in one place on the living-room flat screen. Mohu isn’t offering DVR or multiscreen services (at least not yet), but it will appeal to the same audience with the Channels TV adapter as Aereo has with its monthly service. And with Mohu, there’s no additional monthly fee, and no cloud of legal drama.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments next week from both Aereo and broadcasters on whether the start-up company is operating within the law. If the court decides Aereo’s approach to streaming OTA content without a licensing agreement is legal, then a chaotic mess will follow. Broadcasters will either move more of their content into the pay-TV bundle, or they’ll demand that pay-TV providers not move to the Aereo technology model as part of licensing deals that also include premium programming. Mohu, however, could give consumers much of what they want without that disaster. The immediate licencing revenue from pay-TV providers wouldn’t be threatened, which would give Mohu room to maneuver and grow. It’s an interesting alternative to the Aereo brawl that’s underway. And it will be well worth watching once Mohu brings the Channel TV adapter to market this summer.