Aereo testing Chromecast app

CEO Chet Kanojia says Chromecast support is on the horizon, with the over-the-air streamer testing an app now.

Aereo's CEO Chet Kanojia talking to a group of start-ups in New York
Aereo founder Chet Kanojia, speaking to a group of New York entrepreneurs. Joan E. Solsman/CNET

NEW YORK -- Aereo plans to launch on Chromecast, with the over-the-air broadcast streamer now testing an app for Google's $35 HDMI dongle , Chief Executive Chet Kanojia said Tuesday.

Kanojia, speaking on the sidelines of a UBS investor conference, said Chromecast was one of the main goals of Aereo achieving Android support. Aereo is already compatible with Roku boxes and Apple TV via AirPlay to fling its online streaming and recordings of over-the-air local broadcasts back to the screen where they're traditionally watched: the television.

Chromecast separately announced support for a number of new apps Tuesday, including music video service Vevo .

During a presentation, Kanojia also said that Aereo is working on partnerships with two television manufacturers, aiming to announce them at the Consumer Electronics Show next month.

He also said that Aereo would fall short of its original 2013 goal of expanding to 22 cities.

Tuesday, Kanojia said Aereo would roll out in four or five more cities in the few remaining weeks of the year. With a launch in Baltimore announced last week, Aereo has hit 10 cities, comprising NYC, Baltimore, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, Detroit and Denver.

Its rollout in Chicago remains in limbo because of technological problems. Tuesday, he said the company has also experienced "technical snafus" in Pittsburgh.

Expanding in the US "really is hard," he said, adding that it doesn't help matters that nearly a third of his time, and that of his team, is taken up meeting with lawyers.

The service is the target of a slew of lawsuits from media companies, though Aereo has long maintained that the litigation isn't crimping its expansion plans. The service has been sued by all the broadcast network giants in a New York-based court, including CBS (the parent of CNET), and it also faces other suits in Boston and Utah.

The companies claim Aereo violates their copyrights by streaming their broadcasts to its paying members without paying the networks a fee for the programming. So far, the courts have largely ruled on Aereo's side, saying the companies' argument of copyright infringement isn't strong enough.

However, the television broadcasters have petitioned the US Supreme Court to get involved. Aereo has a deadline to file a response to the petition this week.

Kanojia said that Aereo has started to turn a profit in some markets, and that the service only needs 5,000 to 6,000 subscribers in a city to break even. He also said Aereo has invested $65 million in its rollout. The company continued to stay mum on subscriber numbers, but the executive said Aereo loses very few customers who sign up and stay a subscriber 60 days: Churn is around 2 percent.

He also said half of its customers are outside the pay-TV system, meaning half are "cord cutters" or people who have never had a cable or satellite video service.

 

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