Aereo, the Internet-television service that is terrifying cable companies (and is, so far, getting away with it) announced its first market expansion.
The low-cost service, which allows subscribers to watch broadcast stations live online (and record them) without a cable subscription, is expanding to the Boston area on May 15, the Associated Press reports. Currently, Aereo is only available in New York. But in addition to Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. are next to get the service in the coming months. And by the end of the year the company hopes to be in 22 U.S. cities.
Of course, this isn't going over well with cable companies, AP says:
Broadcasters see Aereo as a threat to their revenue, even though stations already make signals available for free. Broadcasters are increasingly supplementing advertising revenue with fees they get from cable and satellite TV companies for redistributing their stations to subscribers. If customers drop their pay-TV service and use Aereo instead, broadcasters would lose some of that revenue.
So far courts have sided with Aereo that their services aren't illegal, since each subscriber has their own tiny antenna, used to pick up the stations, in a central data center (this video explains more). But cable companies have a trick of their own that could disrupt Aereo's expansion plans: ending their free broadcast and making it subscription-only.