Remember a couple months back, when TV streaming service Aereo was kicked out of the realm of legality by a Supreme Court ruling saying the service violated copyright law?
Aereo, which was available in Boston and employed about 80 people here, kept a bunch of tiny antennas in remote locations. Users were able to access those antennas from their homes and watch programming from local over-the-air stations like ABC or CBS for a monthly fee.
But the court ruled, in part, that since users were accessing the remote antennas through the Internet, Aereo was acting to retransmit the content—an illegal act if networks aren’t paid, as they are by cable companies.
Catching a broadcast signal through an antenna is legal, and free, for anybody who chooses to do so, and there are digital antennas out there for purchase. (That may be part of why Aereo’s subscriber numbers were a bit on the low end when revealed earlier this year.) What set Aereo apart was that it also allowed users to record programs.
The distinction of an in-home antenna device, as opposed to a signal collected in an antenna garden and shot out via the Internet, was made all the more clear with the announcement from digital recording pioneer TiVo last week that it will soon release a device meant to fill the Aereo void.
For about $50, plus a $15 monthly fee (Aereo cost as low as $8), people can buy and use TiVo Roamio OTA DVR, Bloomberg reports. It’s essentially a TiVo device with an antenna, allowing for access to the same sort of over-the-air content that left Aereo shunned. The difference, of course, is that users will have the antenna right there in the house.
TiVo isn’t shy about saying they’re picking up where Aereo left off while bending to the letter of the law. TiVo CMO Ira Bahr told Bloomberg:
“What Aereo’s product demonstrated was that there are large numbers of people who are interested in addressing this market,’’ Bahr said in a phone interview. “With this Aereo ruling, they were left stranded.