A magical thing happened at IAC’s headquarters this morning. A startup called Aereo displayed the most compelling argument for cord-cutting we’ve heard in awhile. It came in the form of a thumbnail-sized HD antenna. Sign up with Aereo and users get the right to license their own antenna, which are stored in a local warehouse. Then, log on via any web-enabled device (smartphones, iPads, even AppleTV) and ta-da, members can access major networks like CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, CW, and PBS, as well as other local channels. Better yet, you also have the ability store up to 40 hours of programming on their remote DVR.
“No cords or cable required,” the company’s press release says pointedly. The service is limited to New York City right now, but only costs $12 a month. Throw in a Netflix account, Hulu, and you’re probably good to go. Happy Valentine’s Day, Dying Cable Industry!
Aereo (formerly called Bamboom Labs) also anounced a $20.5 million series A round led by IAC.
The startup previously raised $4.5 million. Existing investors, including FirstMark Capital, First Round Capital, High Line Venture Partners, Highland Capital Partners and individual investors also participated in the series A. Along with the funding, IAC chairman and Fox network creator Barry Diller joined Aereo’s board.
As Mr. Diller told Media Decoder, Aereo’s device represents a significant step in wrenching content from the “closed cable-broadcast-satellite circle.”:
“Anyone will tell you, whether it’s Amazon or Hulu or Apple, that they can’t get enough programming that people want to see to –so to speak, ‘break the chain’ — because all of the programming is controlled within the circle,” Mr. Diller said in a telephone interview.
Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia, formerly of Navic Networks, seems up to the task. In addition to selling Navic to Microsoft in 2008, he also completed “doctoral-level work on the commercial applications of artificial intelligence.” (Hmm, perhaps that DVR could use a recommendation engine?)
The company says membership is subject to availability, but beginning March 14th, members will be eligible for a 30-day free trial. For now, it’s just working on iOS devices, but Aereo says in the next six weeks “anything that’s web-enabled” will work. Please excuse us, we have to go sign up and see whether this new toy actually works in the bowels of Brooklyn.