While the future of Aereo is still to be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court, the streaming service’s present just got a little more user-friendly with the ability for Android users to access Aereo through Google’s Chromecast dongle thingy.
Until now, if you wanted Aereo — which streams your freely available local network broadcasts over the Internet — on your TV, you generally needed a tablet, phone, or computer hooked up to that TV set, meaning you couldn’t then use that device for any other function while you enjoyed your Aereo feed.
But today the company announced that users of the Aereo Android app can now access the service via Chromecast.
This means that you can stream directly to your TV while still having the freedom to use your phone or tablet that is controlling the service. It’s a big step up in convenience for the service and one that could make it attractive to even more consumers — if the Supreme Court doesn’t shut it down later this summer.
For those unfamiliar with Aereo, it’s a streaming service that uses arrays of tiny antennae, with each end-user assigned to a single antenna. It collects the over-the-air feeds from the broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC) in the user’s market and streams it to a variety of devices live for a monthly fee. It also offers cloud-based DVR storage for recording and playing back shows on-demand.
Since Aereo doesn’t get permission or pay the networks for access to their feeds — as opposed to cable and satellite companies who pay out the you-know-what for the right to bring you The Bachelorette and America’s Got Talent in all their glory — the networks say Aereo is violating their copyright and breaking the law.
Aereo contends that the one antenna per user setup means it’s offering nothing different than a rooftop antenna for the 21st Century — that antenna just happens to be several miles from your roof.
The broadcasters also make the potentially industry-shattering accusation that Aereo’s cloud-based DVR is in violation of copyright law by effectively creating a new public performance of a copyrighted work every time a user plays back a recorded video.
All but one federal court has thus far sided with Aereo, and both sides made their argument before the Supremes earlier this spring. If the court sides with Aereo, the company will continue its expansion into new markets (and will likely be acquired by some large cable or satellite company that wants the antenna technology so it can get around having to pay billions of dollars to the broadcast networks).
If the broadcasters succeed, it would not only be the likely death of Aereo but could stir up a hornet’s nest of lawsuits surrounding cloud-based storage and streaming services.
However, it is possible the court could rule against Aereo but disagree with the broadcasters regarding cloud-based tech, which would be a bummer to those cord-cutters who enjoyed the service, but won’t be a doomsday for things like Amazon’s media players or Dropbox.