Utahns can now record and watch live television from their computers or mobile devices. Aereo Inc. launched its online television technology in the state this week. Utah is the fourth location the company has offered the service, after New York, Boston, and Atlanta.
An Aereo subscription allows Utahns across the state to view local TV broadcasts on most smart devices and computers. It also includes a cloud-based digital video recorder or DVR. Using Aereo’s technology, consumers can pause, rewind and fast-forward any program they are watching live or save a program for future viewing. It’s billed as a cheap alternative to cable, but it doesn’t include cable channels, just over-the-air broadcasts that can be received by an antenna. Aereo’s Vice President of Communications and Government Relations Virginia Lam admits it’s not for everyone.
“Our target consumer is really someone who likes the flexibility of being able to watch television on their terms,” says Lam. She says the service would likely appeal to those who already use TV-viewing platforms like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Membership begins at 8 dollars a month, with the first month free. Lam says Utah is a promising market for this type of product.
“The demographics are great. There’s excellent broadband penetration. The population is young and growing. People are tech-savvy. There’s high global device penetration, and so it’s really an ideal market for Aereo to expand into,” Lam says. “It’s not necessarily the largest market, but it does have some of those key attributes that we look for in cities that we expand to.”
Aereo has been the subject of a lawsuit filed by NBC, Fox, PBS, and other major broadcasters, alleging that the company violates copyright law by charging customers to stream their broadcast signals. Federal judges so far have ruled in favor of Aereo. Company officials say their technology operates within the law, because each customer buys access to a single antenna. In Utah, these small antennas - each the size of a dime - are housed on the roof of a data center in Bluffdale. From the antenna, the signal is compressed and beamed over the Internet.