Aereo expansion continues in face of lawsuits

Aereo launches in five more US cities before the end of September, making its online platform available to an additional 17 million homes, the company has confirmed.

The platform will officially launch in Miami on 2 September, Houston on 16 September and Dallas on 23 September. The company has already announced access in Utah on 19 August and Chicago on 13 September.

Aereo offers its subscribers a package of local free over-the-air TV channels through web browsers and iOS mobile devices, as well as through Apple TV and Roku, through its cloud-based DVR. Android support is expected soon.

Aereo subscriptions start at $8 a month, or $1 a day, and it offers new subscribers a free month’s trial.

The company, backed by Fox Broadcasting creator Barry Diller, launched its service in March last year in New York City. In January, the company announced plans to expand to 22 new cities, including Washington DC.

Aereo’s aggressive expansion is continuing despite the uncertainty created by lawsuits from the major broadcasters, who have argued – so far without success – that Aereo’s retransmission of their signals violates copyright and should be shut down.

Aereo has also said that its customers can watch CBS channels during an ongoing dispute that has seen Time Warner Cable pull CBS from its channel list.

The company has consistently argued that consumers are being overcharged by providers for their cable and satellite viewing access.

CEO and founder Chet Kanojia said: “Consumers want more choice and flexibility when it comes to how they watch television. Aereo is the easiest, most convenient way for consumers to access broadcast television online using an antenna. Consumers deserve choice and we believe we’ve built something that will have a meaningful and positive impact for consumers.”

Commenting on the latest move, Michael Dean, research analyst for broadband & TV at Informa Telecoms & Media, said: “Aereo’s continued expansion clearly demonstrates its bullishness after its recent legal win against the networks in New York. However, with every new state it expands into, fresh litigation against it is being born and fighting on all these fronts will undoubtedly have its pressures for the plucky start-up.

“Aereo’s greatest defence will be if it can amass a sizeable and loyal enough following from consumers across all the territories it now operates in. If it can achieve this, then the pressure from its users towards the networks may help it build more of a case in battling for its existence.”

Aereo said it would confirm more launch dates in the next few weeks.

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