Over here we’ve got the ubiquitous (but superbly named) iPlayer, the itv Player, 4oD and DEMAND 5. Over there, initially in New York but in the process of expanding to more than 20 other cities there is Aereo TV .
It’s different because it enables you to watch all the major free to air broadcast channels live on your devices and/or time delayed. It’s principally a subscription service but there is a (limited) free element.
It operates with a, sort of, broadcast workaround using zillions of mini antenna’s housed in data centres. They recently won a landmark case brought by the major US broadcasters and are understandably rather pleased by this.
An extract from their FAQ’s explains, we thought, rather well how live viewing operates “When you tune to a live program from the Guide, you instruct your assigned antenna housed at the Aereo data center to tune to the channel the show is on and pass the digital broadcast stream to your remote DVR. The DVR consists of several components that process the program stream and prepare it for you to stream it to your internet-connected device. Your DVR records the program as you watch it, giving you the ability to pause or rewind the live stream. When you record, you record three separate unique copies of the show, each in a different bit rate optimized for different streaming conditions. The lowest bit rate file is ideal for streaming over 3G connections. The medium rate file will work well over most Wifi connections. The highest rate file is intended for really fast broadband connections. While watching, you can choose the Video Quality on your device. If you select “auto” you will automatically choose the best bit rate for your current network conditions.”
Here’s their video version of how it works.
The mobile devices which can receive the broadcasts are currently uber Apple-centric (ie iPad [all] & iPhone [iOS 4 & later]) but again we have no doubt in the future this will be extended to the Android and likely other major operating systems. In PC and Mac terms you can watch it on all the main browsers although it started out on Safari. It also operates on Apple TV via Airplay.
“Zero TV” homes are expanding with in the US now up to 5 million who solely watch TV programmes via the internet so this could well be the way forward.
We would love a similar facility over here perhaps linked into a differential Licence fee arrangement with the BBC ie an option for a different fee level. We of course would wish it to be lower!
We’ll leave you with Tech Feed News recent view, which you may need to mute and look away from at one point but it does summarise the Aereo offering and status rather well.