Aereo to launch in Baltimore, still a dozen cities short of goal

Originally aiming to reach 22 cities by the end of 2013, Aereo's next rollout brings the list to 10.

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

Aereo, the online TV service that streams and records over-the-air shows in some parts of the US, said Thursday that it will launch in Baltimore on Dec. 16.

The company aimed to expand from its New York home base to 22 total cities in the US this year, but has been held back technical difficulties on top of accumulating legal wrangling. With Baltimore, it will be in 10 cities, comprising NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, Detroit and Denver.

Aereo also identified San Antonio, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio , as cities it would enter, but those areas are additional to the original 22 goal for this year.

The service, which uses tiny antennas to stream over-the-air programming to its members, said the Baltimore metro area includes 11 counties across central Maryland. Residents who preregister at Aereo.com will have priority in signing up when Aereo's technology will be available on Dec. 16.

Aereo Chief Executive and founder Chet Kanojia has warned in recent months that Aereo may fall a couple cities short of its 2013 wish list, but it has encountered technical and legal tangles since then.

Its rollout in Chicago remains in limbo . In what would have been its next biggest market after New York, Aereo said in September it was testing its service there when it "encountered issues" with its testing site, according to a blog post from the company, and put plans there on hold.

The service is also 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 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 next week.

Aereo, backed by IAC Chairman Barry Diller, offers a cloud-based DVR that lets users record over-the-air programming and play it back on personal devices, charging $8 a month for its for its cheapest package.

 

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