Aereo fine-tunes its TV streaming prices, plans

A "streamlined" plan, starting at $8 per month, does away with long-term commitments and with annual and daily options, and offers the first month of service at no charge.

Aereo antennea
Aereo's little antenna has led to a big brouhaha with television networks. Aereo

Aereo on Monday announced a new pricing structure for its upstart TV streaming service.

The "streamlined" structure does away with long-term commitments and with annual and daily offerings. Now, consumers can start with a base membership plan of $8 per month for use of Aereo's cloud-based antenna/DVR technology and 20 hours of DVR storage. For $12 a month, they can upgrade to 60 hours of DVR storage.

The New York-based company is further sweetening things by offering the first month of service at no charge.

"We looked at our data and it was clear, consumers want a more simple approach to pricing," Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia said in a statement. "With our new pricing structure, consumers begin with one base plan and then have the ability to upgrade their membership to triple their DVR storage capacity."

The new plans go into effect Wednesday, the same day that Aereo plans to open up its service to residents of the Boston area , its second market. The company launched its service in 2012 in the New York metro area, and said in January that it plans to expand to 22 cities across the U.S. during 2013.

With Aereo's antenna/DVR technology, consumers can watch live, local over-the-air television broadcasts on some Internet-connected devices, including the iPad, iPhone, and Roku players. That capability has provoked lawsuits from TV broadcast giants including ABC, CBS (the parent of CNET), Fox, NBC Universal, and Telemundo, which alleged last year that the service violates their copyrights and that Aereo must pay them retransmission fees.

And call this counterprogramming: according to a report in the New York Times, ABC this week will launch an app that would let residents of New York and Philadelphia watch local programming live on their iPhones and iPads.

The updated pricing structure applies to new Aereo members. Those already signed up with Aereo will be kept to their original plans until the end of their current membership period, and those now paying $12 a month will be automatically upgraded to 60 hours of DVR storage capacity.

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