By Stephen Schenck | February 14, 2012 3:35 PM
We’ve been talking about SlingBox and SlingPlayer for years, the hardware-and-app solution that lets you access all the television you’d normally enjoy at home while out on-the-go. That works just fine for what it is, but one company has aims to offer a similar service, without the need to purchase any hardware in advance. Called Aereo, the firm has it sights on bringing broadcast TV to smartphone and tablet users for a monthly fee.
For starters, at least, Aereo service would be constrained to users in New York City. The idea is that Aereo would virtualize all the hardware needed to put together your own SlingBox-style video capture system, and rent out access to it. In order to attempt avoiding legal issues, each user would have a dedicated system, including your own designated antenna. Users access Aereo through the company’s HTML5 site, providing playback and DVR controls.
If all this sounds a little confusing, it’s probably due to the hoops Aereo is jumping through in order to try keeping things legit. That’s why you don’t see support for any cable stations, only broadcast TV, and why it will be limited to users in the New York metropolitan area.
For its trouble, Aereo plans to charge users $12 a month for its service. That may sound a bit on the expensive side when you consider Aereo isn’t paying for rights to any of the media it streams; in the long run, a personal SlingBox may ultimately be more affordable, though not necessarily as convenient to use as Aereo.
It’s admittedly a neat idea, but we have some serious doubts about the chances for Aereo’s success. The television networks will almost assuredly go after Aereo with the full force of their legal departments, and a recent case with parallels to this situation, dealing with online DVD streaming, was decided in favor of the rights-holders.
Aereo service starts in New York City mid-next-month.