Aereo Needs More than Court Approval to Keep the Lights On

Aereo antenna array

The courts have kept the lights on at Aereo so far, but it’s not clear that Aereo itself can afford the power bill. According to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the online start-up company is facing massive electricity costs thanks to the tiny antennas it has to keep running for every subscriber on its video streaming roster. In the Journal’s analysis, Aereo could end up paying $2 million a year in New York alone if it scales up to the 350,000 subscribers CEO Chet Kanojia says he can support.

Meanwhile, Aereo also announced today that it will launch in the Denver metro area on November 4th. That makes nine markets for the video company, which also debuted in Detroit yesterday, that has said it intends to cover 22 markets by year end.

Kanojia indicates he has some ideas for dealing with the power dilemma. One is to use fuel cells for power generation. Another, and seemingly more likely option, is to combine Aereo’s antennas with its transcoding equipment. Like the cable operators, Aereo is discovering that relying on denser, multi-purpose equipment can (eventually) reduce both cap ex and operating costs.

As for Aereo’s broader business model,

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Arris Talks Sling, Streaming Sticks, and More

Arris Sling gateway MS4000 Front AngleX

Hot on the heels of its exclusive partnership with Sling, Arris is already talking additional set-top enhancements. With smarter gateways available to handle video transcoding in the home, Arris wants to slim down client devices and create new form factors that challenge the traditional set-top box. At the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo show, the company described plans to develop hardware like the Chromecast streaming stick. That type of dongle would plug directly into a user’s TV and connect over Wi-Fi to the home gateway – to expand options for whole-home networking and simplify access to premium content from multiple TVs.

Meanwhile on the Sling front, an industry insider suggested at the SCTE Expo that the placeshifting deal was done twice with Arris; first with Arris of old, and second with Arris after the Motorola acquisition. Now that everything’s signed, sealed, and delivered, it’s not clear if any major U.S. cable operators will integrate a Sling solution. However, given Netflix looks to be on the table, I supposed anything’s possible these days in cable land. Certainly cable companies are watching their satellite TV counterparts to see how far they can push the envelope with programmers.

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Motorola’s Moloney Tipped for TiVo’s Board

Motorola President Home and Networks Mobility Dan Moloney CES 2010

Every industry has its own small-world feel, and the cable industry perhaps more than most. Enemies and friends disappear and then reappear in new circles. Opponents in one fight end up allies in another. And the once-president of Motorola Mobility joins the Board of Directors for retail rival TiVo.

Such is the case with Dan Moloney. Moloney rose up through General Instruments, and was part of the acquisition of GI by Motorola in 2000. He ran Motorola’s Connected Home business (known by a variety of names over the years), and, after a brief stint as CEO of Technitrol in 2010, took on the role of President at Motorola Mobility when the original Motorola split in two. He left again in 2012 when Google took over, and has largely been off the radar for the last year.

Now Moloney’s back,

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Verizon’s TV Talk Chills Cable Relations

Well this could put a damper on Verizon’s currently cozy relationship with the cable industry. According to the New York Post, Verizon – like so many companies – is in talks with “major programmers” about creating a national, Internet-based pay-TV service. The Post says that while Verizon has pursued access to particular shows in the … Read more

Digital Media Bytes

A periodic roundup of relevant news… via our other outlets: Comcast Debuts Family Messaging App Comcast Corp. has quietly launched a new family text messaging and calendaring app for iOS and Android mobile phones. Dubbed Family Point, the app offers private text and voice messaging in a timeline format, similar to a Twitter or Facebook … Read more

CBS Blackout Should Ignite Free TV Debate

Digital TV

The retransmission fight between CBS and Time Warner cable shows no sign of abating, but it is triggering some interesting discussions over how consumers and regulators should handle the standoff. Dave suggests that Time Warner subscribers pick up a Mohu Leaf antenna to amplify over-the-air CBS signals while cable access is cut off.

On the regulatory front, GigaOM points us to a blog post by Harold Feld, attorney and Legal Director for Public Knowledge. Among other suggestions, Feld recommends that the FCC should bar CBS from blocking Time Warner subscribers from accessing its content on CBS.com. The theory is that CBS can choose what programming it makes available online, but it can’t discriminate against a specific group of viewers.

Meanwhile, I’m left wondering why no one seems to bring up the obvious discussion point. Should we still have free TV? Broadcast networks now rely heavily on retransmission revenue, and that’s why negotiations with cable companies are such a big deal. But retrans fees trickle down to consumers, which means people are paying for free content just to get it through their cable provider. Is the idea of free TV dying out as business models evolve? More importantly, should we be trying to save it?

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Spurned TWC Customers Pick Up Antennas For CBS OTA

As the Time Warner Cable CBS retransmission spat drags on, impacted cable subscribers (or is that former subscribers?) have resorted to HDTV antennas and free OTA broadcasts, if RadioShack’s surge in sales is any indication. And, should you find yourself in a similar situation, let me recommend the amazing Mohu Leaf (~$40). We tend to shy … Read more