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Aereo New TV Streaming Service

What Aereo's New Television Streaming Service Means to You

Aereo is looking to change the way America watches television. American TV, currently under the control of a few major cable companies, generally requires that you purchase or rent a cable box and access the company's programming via a cable or satellite dish. Aereo is cutting that cable and taking programming to the cloud.

What is Aereo streaming service?

Aereo's cloud-based antennae allow users to access free television signals on most Internet enabled devices. They don't require users to purchase any hardware; the entire system is cloud-based. Plus: users can use multiple Internet devices and can travel with their programming anywhere within the coverage area. They aren't limited to watching television at home.

Currently, Aereo is available in eleven markets, including New York City, Boston, Miami and Atlanta. More than a dozen additional markets are coming soon. Pricing includes daily, monthly and yearly options and is generally much less expensive than traditional cable packages, with no contract.

Long Island-based Aereo launched in 2012 and is part of Barry Diller's IAC Group.

The controversy

Aereo and its new television streaming service have sparked a controversy. At issue is whether Aereo is offering a unique service to consumers or pirating existing programming without compensating the original broadcaster and the content's owners. A consortium of broadcasters, including ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, sued Aereo in federal court in March, 2012, seeking an injunction against the company starting service in the New York City area. The federal judge denied to issue the injunction.

The broadcasters didn't stop at the federal court level. They petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court agreed to hear the case. Oral arguments were heard in late April, but no verdict has been handed down by the Court. In advance of the Supreme Court case, a U.S. Circuit Judge granted an injunction in the U.S. 10th District, prohibiting Aereo from operating in Colorado, Kansas, new Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.

Also concerned are sports organizations, including the National Football League and Major League Baseball, who filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that Aereo's streaming of copyrighted sports content would violate several international treaties that prohibit the re-broadcasting of sports content without the copyright holder's written consent. The Department of Justice and the U.S. Copyright Office have also filed briefs with the Supreme Court in support of the broadcasters. The Obama administration has sided publicly with the broadcasters group in this case.

Aereo maintains that since each subscriber has his own antenna, as opposed to the programming being delivered via a central antenna, the broadcasts are "private performances" rather than "public performances" and therefore not subject to U.S. copyright laws.

Clearly, Aereo has sparked a controversy. How this case will play out and who will prevail remains to be seen.