Flying in the face of broadcaster lawsuits, Aereo is forging ahead with its plans to bring live TV to the mobile masses. The company plans to release its first Android app in the Google Play store Oct. 22.
The app, which will be compatible with phones, "phablets" and tablets running Android 4.2 or higher, will roll out in public beta for Aereo members. Members can also now connect a Roku box to their account using an Android device.
"At Aereo, we believe consumers should have more choice and control over how they watch television, and a big part of that is expanding the universe of devices that they can use to access Aereo's technology," said Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia. "This year, our focus has been on growing our footprint across the country....Our future is bright as we remain as committed and passionate as ever about creating innovative and simple to use technology for consumers to access live TV online."
Lawsuits Could Derail Aereo
Aereo relies on remote cloud-based antenna/DVR technology. Consumers can pause, rewind and fast-forward any program that they are watching live, or save a program for future viewing.
Aereo's technology works on tablets, phones and laptop computers. The Android app is new. Aereo is already supported on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, Chrome, IE 9, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Apple TV and Roku devices.
Aereo membership starts at $8 a month. That's quite the bargain for what it offers. The problem for many would-be consumers is access. Aereo is only available to New York, Boston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Miami, Houston and Dallas. But more cities are coming online in the months ahead -- if the company survives the lawsuits against it.
Fox, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Local TV filed suit in Utah's federal court on Monday, alleging the company violates its copyrights. Broadcasters have also filed suit in New York and Boston on similar grounds.
Too Late To Stop the Train?
But it may be too late to stop the momentum. Consumers want to watch live TV outside the home and broadcasters have been slow to allow it. Broadcasters want to keep a tight rein on their content. They don't mind you streaming unlimited content in the home but are reticent to allow you to stream that same content anywhere else.
We caught up with Paul Erickson, a senior analyst in IHS Electronics & Media's Consumer Electronics group, to get his take on watching live mobile TV outside the home. Despite the brewing Aereo controversy, he told us the number of channels that you can view outside the household are gradually increasing.
"I predict the number of channels available outside the home will continue to increase, especially as this type of model becomes more commonplace," he said. "The first part of this is the consumer trend towards more and more viewing from non-TV devices, like laptops, tablets, smartphones. The second part will see pay TV operators expanding the content they send to mobile devices."