Aereo: the Good, the Bad, and Where It Could Get Ugly

Aereo logo and antenna array

Fox network creator Barry Diller introduced a new over-the-top video service yesterday called Aereo. Many are already calling it dead in the water, but there are several reasons I’m more optimistic about Aereo than competitive OTT services launched in recent years.

To take a step back, Aereo is offering a service that delivers broadcast TV stations over IP and bundles them with a DVR. Stations are available on iOS and Roku devices, with Android, PC and Mac browser support scheduled to kick in by mid-March. The service is $12 a month, and is currently invitation-only in New York. Aereo will open up to the public in NYC on March 14th.

In order to be successful, Aereo will have to deliver stellar quality of service. These are free broadcast TV channels after all, which means people can use their own antennas to get the same content at no cost. However, in addition to the DVR add-on (which is pretty compelling in itself for today’s non-cable households), Aereo promises decent picture quality – no need to futz with antenna positioning or manipulate around dead zones. That’s a potential combination of DVR, picture quality and convenience. Not bad.

In addition, I think Aereo’s got a few other things going for it: 

Read moreAereo: the Good, the Bad, and Where It Could Get Ugly

Don't Cut The Cord. Cut The Inconvenience.

Boxee, makers of software powering digital media streaming boxes and computers, recently launched a campaign that seemingly encourages folks to “cut the cord” (and find fulfillment via their new Live TV USB dongle):

Yes, there are hundreds of cable channels, but make a list of the stuff you actually watch. You will probably find that most are on broadcast and the rest are available on Vudu/Netflix/Network sites. What is left on your list? Is it really worth $85 a month? We believe the combination of Netflix/Vudu/Vimeo/TED/etc. with over-the-air channels delivers a much better experience for less money.

Let’s skip for a moment the fact that most modern televisions tune over-the-air HD broadcasts and so Boxee’s cost “savings” pitch fails to incorporate their hardware fees. Instead, we’d rather focus on Boxee’s spat with the cable industry. And the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) takes issue with Boxee’s possible hypocrisy:

Instead of telling regulators that its service is a replacement for pay TV service, they now seem to be saying that their service is dependent on subscription TV and that regulators must… wait for it… dictate how cable service is delivered to its customers. Yes, that is correct. This cord-cutting, end-of-cable-as-we-know-it dynamo is demanding that the FCC not allow cable systems to scramble its basic service tier

Read moreDon't Cut The Cord. Cut The Inconvenience.

Simple.TV – Television Without The Screen

Simple.TV is the retail DVR you wanted five years ago. And yet it’s still interesting enough to make my personal list of top product announcements coming out of CES 2012. Why? Because it’s a truly viable, inexpensive way to add digital video recording to your TV set-up without cable’s help. Maybe you remember the Replay … Read more

If It’s Netflix Versus Cable, The MSOs Have Won

GigaOm has proclaimed that Netflix streaming and the cable industry are clearly in competition – vying for the same eyeballs and the same dollars. Yet, I’m not seeing it. Sure, there’s some overlap… of on-demand television content and back catalog films. But amongst the vast majority of my peers, and within my household, Netflix provides suplemental … Read more

New Cord-Cutting Stats

Opinions vary widely on whether cord cutting and cord shaving are legitimate trends. And at a panel during Streaming Media East yesterday, execs from MTV, NBA Digital and Roku threw out new stats on the subject. According to Tom Gorke from MTV Networks, digital video is not a substitute for television. Even in its audience … Read more

Where Are All The Cord Cutters?

A few days ago TechCrunch proclaimed that, “275,000 Comcast subscribers cut the cord last quarter.” And, indeed, a ton of customers fired Comcast. Yet, it’s not quite clear how many of these folks actually “cut the cord” versus jumping to a competing service such as Verizon’s FiOS TV… who report a net addition of 204,000 … Read more

The Future of TV… is TV

As a follow up to the failure of CableCARD and customer service post, I’m back in business. Cox Communications reps continued to reach out yesterday, but I was frustrated and beat down – and not interested in providing any more explanations of the issue or facilitating additional troubleshooting. So they went about resolving the situation on their end. Not sure what was done, but my entire channel lineup is now available on the TiVo Premiere (with it’s own set of issues that we’ll get to). Which dovetails nicely with the question of cutting the cord…

As attractive as it may seem to dump the cable co, it’s not really an option in our household. We enjoy our premium TV. And we enjoy the (usual) simplicity of our setup. There’s no question that over-the-top video is now everywhere. And expanding. Yet, the selection remains unpredictable. As does the quality of content and delivery. (Low-res Alf reruns on Hulu entertain for all of ten minutes. OK, maybe 20, Mr. Shumway.) However, there are options… for tech enthusiasts like us. But for most folks, beyond STBs with integrated Netflix or YouTube streaming, Internet-sourced content in a lean-back environment is a mystery.

Read moreThe Future of TV… is TV