En route to Supreme Court, Aereo to arrive in Cincinnati

The service that streams over-the-air TV will roll out next in the Cincinnati area, after the start-up fell short of its expansion goals last year.

An array of Aereo antennae
Aereo's arrays of tiny antennae let consumers watch live, local television broadcasts online. Aereo

Aereo, the online TV startup headed to the Supreme Court later this year, said Friday it will launch in Cincinnati on January 21.

The company aimed to expand from its New York home base to 22 total cities in the US last year, but has been held back technical difficulties on top of accumulating legal wrangling. With Cincinnati, it will be in 11 cities, comprising NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Denver, and Baltimore.

In December, Chief Executive and founder Chet Kanojia said Aereo would roll out to four or five more cities in the remaining weeks of the year . Failing that, he said at the Consumer Electronics Show that it would roll out to those cities in the first quarter .

The service, which uses tiny antennas to stream over-the-air programming to its members, said the Cincinnati area includes 24 counties across Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, in range for 30 broadcast channels. Residents who preregister at Aereo.com will have priority signing up when Aereo's technology will be available.

Aereo's expansion plans have been crimped by technical snafus and the ongoing distraction of being sued wherever it goes.

Its rollout in Chicago, what would have been its biggest market after New York, remains in limbo because of difficulty weatherproofing antennas, and the company has faced problems in Pittsburgh as well.

The service is also the target of a slew of lawsuits from media companies, who are making copyright complaints that the US Supreme Court agreed to hear last week. The service has been sued by all the broadcast network giants, including CBS (the parent of CNET).

Read: Aereo's Supreme Court battle may change how you watch TV

The companies claim Aereo violates their copyrights by streaming their broadcasts without paying the networks a fee for the programming. Aereo has said its setup -- with an individual antenna for every subscriber, and an individual copy of the content for each user -- is the same as operating each member's antenna of his or her behalf, connecting it to the Web, and letting that member use the antenna however they see fit, which is allowed under copyright law.

So far, the courts have largely ruled on Aereo's side, saying the companies' argument of copyright infringement isn't strong enough.

The Supreme Court, however, may not see it that way. With any case before the bench, the ultimate decision is difficult to predict.

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 cheapest package.

 

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