Sold out in New York, Aereo to expand to San Antonio

The service that streams over-the-air TV fell short of its 2013 expansion goals, but growth continues despite mounting legal battles.

Aereo's little antenna is causing some headaches among TV executives.
Aereo matches each subscriber to a single antenna that's no larger than a dime. Aereo

Aereo, the online TV startup that streams over-the-air broadcasts via tiny, individual antennas, said Monday it will launch in San Antonio on Feb. 19.

The company, which launched in New York in 2012, had hoped to expand to 22 total cities in the US last year, but plans have been held back by technological foibles, as well as mounting legal battles. With San Antonio, it will be in 12 cities, comprising NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Baltimore, and Cincinnati.

Last week, Chief Executive Chet Kanojia confirmed a report that Aereo had run out of capacity for new members in New York, coming shortly before two of the biggest broadcast television events of this year: the Super Bowl and the Sochii Olympics.

In an effort to stay in the clear of copyright law, Aereo's service is based on an individual antenna for every subscriber, and an individual copy of the content for each user. The company said it was working to add more capacity in NYC. It doesn't disclose its membership numbers nor how many antennas it has in a given market.

Media companies (including CBS, the parent of CNET) have sued Aereo in multiple states, claiming Aereo is still infringing on their copyrights even with the single-antenna setup. The US Supreme Court will hear the case later this year.

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

In addition to legal wrangling, Aereo's expansion plans have been crimped by technical snafus. Its rollout in Chicago, what would have been its biggest market after New York, remains in limbo because of difficulty weatherproofing antennas. The company has faced problems in Pittsburgh as well.

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

Aereo said the San Antonio area includes 22 counties across Texas, in range for more than 30 broadcast channels, as well as Bloomberg Television. Residents who preregister at Aereo.com will have priority signing up when Aereo's technology will be available.

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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