Aereo, an online television streaming service backed by Fox television network creator Barry Diller, launched in New York City on Valentine's Day 2012. Two weeks later, the major networks -- ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW, Univision, and, yes, PBS -- banded together and asked a federal judge to shut down the the nascent service.
Their claim was that Aereo, which differs from sites like Hulu in that it gives subscribers the ability to watch and record live TV on their computers and mobile devices, was illegally reproducing copyrighted works without permission in violation of federal law. A U.S. District Judge didn't buy that, nor did the 2nd Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court's decision on April 1.
And that has opened the door for Aereo's expansion. First on the list for whatever reason is Salt Lake City, which will get the service on August 19, followed by Miami on September 2, Chicago on September 13, Houston on September 16 and, finally, on September 23, it comes to Dallas.
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia kicked off his announcement of the Dallas area by thoroughly buttering us up.
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"The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex region is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country and its residents are tech-savvy and wired for the 21st Century," he said in a press release, going on to tout the flexibility his company will bring to TV watching in the "great state of Texas."
It's hard to see TV watchers flocking to Aereo, at least at first. The basic membership costs $8 per month, which is exactly $8 more than it costs to capture the same signals with a standard antenna and converter box. The advantages -- 20 hours of DVR storage and mobile access to live TV -- don't seem like much of a draw.
But the mere fact that a Aereo is allowed to exist could foreshadow a seismic shift in broadcast television. Fox has threatened to stop its over-the-air broadcasts in favor of not-so-easily poached cable signals if the company continues to operate. That hasn't happened, but CNN Money suggests that such a decision would have a domino effect, prompting all the networks to shift to cable which, as AdWeek notes, would "cripple the network-local station broadcast model."
For now, though, it's just another way to watch TV.