Aereo CEO aims for 25 percent market penetration in 5 years

Chet Kanojia, CEO of the controversial company that streams live television over the Internet, hopes one out of four TV viewers will be using Aereo in the next five years.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia speaks at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo., Monday. Screenshot by Nick Statt/CNET

In a one-on-one interview at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo., Monday afternoon, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia outlined his vision of growth for the controversial television streaming company that has fought off legal action from nearly every broadcast corporation in the country. In the next five to seven years, Kanojia hopes that one out of every four people will be using Aereo.

The sit-down at Brainstorm Tech comes on the heels of Aereo's announcement today that Salt Lake City will be getting its service by mid-August, making the Utah capital the fourth named destination. Boston and New York City are currently the only two available markets, but according to a timeline outlined in January, Aereo hopes to get to a total of 22 locations by September, punctuated by an expansion to Chicago slated for September 13.

"Every week or two weeks there will be two or three more cities," Kanojia said, though he was transparent about possibly missing the 22-market mark by one or two. "It's almost like a cellular company...there's a lot of capital we have to employ," he added.

Aereo's technology, which involves renting out tiny antennas that then stream broadcast television over the Internet, has sparked lawsuits from broadcast giants like ABC, CBS (the parent of CNET), Fox, NBC Universal, and Telemundo. The networks have claimed that the service infringes their copyrights to distribute over-the-air programming, and that Aereo is operating illegally by not paying the retransmission fees.

But back in April, Aereo won a huge legal victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that covers New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, allowing it to continue operating. And just last week, thatvictory was cemented when a federal appeals court refused to rehear that earlier decision.

Despite the legal standoffs, Kanojia's attitude toward the broadcast titans trying to stamp him out is a cordial one. "I don't think of any of these companies as enemies. They have large great businesses, and they were great businesses long before we came around," he said. "I'm not a sage in this industry. I've always had faith that media companies need interesting, neutral tech companies that can create a relationship."