No You Don’t Replace Aereo, Silly Rabbit

Dave Zatz —  July 1, 2014 — 22 Comments

tivo-pick-me-heart

In the wake of Aereo’s Supreme Court smackdown and cessation of service, CEOs from the likes of TiVo and SimpleTV have taken to the press to pitch their case as an over-the-air replacement. But Aereo’s primary benefits can’t be replicated by these guys.

First, Aereo positioned their rental antennas where the company obviously received a strong signal. Which isn’t necessarily the case for our dwellings located in urban canyons or on the far side of the digital cliff. Second, with a shared, centrally managed infrastructure, Aereo didn’t saddle customers with the expense of hardware (or long term commitments), running only $8-12/month.

aereo-cost

TiVo tells the NYPost, “Aereo’s consumer proposition lives — maybe even in a healthier form.” Yet cord cutters will need to front about $300 in hardware and $15/month to approximate Aereo. Minus Roku access and Android streaming, as TiVo failed to hit their revised internal “late June” deployment target. However, TiVo does have its place. And, for a pure over-the-air DVR, assuming reception at your location and available cash, the best option is a used 2-tuner TiVo Premiere with Lifetime Service. Whereas those with the technical acumen and a placeshifting requirement should look to the highly regarded Tablo TV. Or just stick a Slingbox on that used TiVo. But, again, what you’re left with isn’t quite Aereo and there remains a void to be filled.

What we’ll ultimately see is something like a Hulu Live in which the broadcasters work a deal with their online progeny that includes local affiliate revenue share. Because everyone must be paid. Also we look forward to an online television offering from DISH Network, who is reportedly in talks with all sorts of networks. As to content breadth, pricing, and functionality, we’ll just have to wait.

22 responses to No You Don’t Replace Aereo, Silly Rabbit

  1. BBC iPlayer is a national treasure. Wish we had similar.

  2. “BBC iPlayer is a national treasure. Wish we had similar.”

    I’d take the NHS over iPlayer.

    —–

    “TiVo tells the NYPost, “Aereo’s consumer proposition lives — maybe even in a healthier form.”

    But TiVo is just exploiting a “loophole” in the law, using the VCR case to justify their existence. And we all know that hard drives are nothing like videotape, and that TiVo in fact, is more like a cable company.

  3. Interesting moves given that Fox is already using the Aereo decision to bolster it’s case against Dish. I’m worried that it’s about to become open season on anyone offering placeshifting.

  4. Eh, they can make the argument. We’ll see if it holds water. But I suspect Fox is mostly using it as leverage to work a more lucrative retrans and TV Everywhere licensing deal with DISH (as they did with ABC). Regarding personal Slingboxes and TiVos that stream, I don’t see that falling under the ‘public performance’ umbrella nor do the numbers at play probably concern anyone. Not to mention the broadcasters probably feared Aereo more for the potential to offering service to cable and satellite companies in lieu of retransmission deals – that’s where the money is.

  5. “No You Don’t Replace Aereo, Silly Rabit”

    Fixed: No You Don’t Replace Aereo, Silly Rabbit Ears

  6. Chucky, once again I thank you for all your contributions. (I’d take the universal health care too, says the guy with supposedly good health insurance yet down $70k over the last couple years. Perhaps doubly relevant today as Aereo now wants folks to petition Congress… who has bigger fish to fry.)

  7. One of the real beauties of whatever form of NETWORKED solution one uses is that hopefully, that providers bandwidth at the source is not limited. For any home user, there are indeed many many options, but many users from their HOMES have quite limited UPSTREAM bandwidth, which just simply will destroy the experience.

  8. Chucky, “these behind-the-scenes technological differences do not distinguish” a hard drive from a VCR. See? You can use this logic in all kinds of places.

    —–

    I personally think place shifting has survived so far primarily for not being examined too closely. No idea how the case would go if it was taken to court. Course eventually those analog outputs from your DVRs are going to be eliminated as the TVs that required them vanish into the past, and there won’t be any way to build a Slingbox without violating the DMCA by hacking the HDMI signal. Dish better have a plan to relocate the business overseas or something by then…

    —–

    I agree with you completely on the TiVo vs. Aereo front though Dave. Not sure there’s any real way to work around this either. I do like Chet Kanojia a lot though. Hope he ends up somewhere useful.

  9. Yeah, while Aereo’s had some marcom issues, from what I’ve read and viewed of Chet I wish him well – he’s got a lot to offer.

    I forgot to mention this… in relation to the lifetimed 2-tuner Premiere, prices should continue creeping down given Roamio and now that TiVo is letting folks put Lifetime Service on them for $99. Having said that Roamio does tune better (and with more tuners) but the cost of entry becomes painful. TiVo should reconsider offering that OTA-only service tier.

  10. For my money I would buy the Roamio – in fact I did and don’t think the $590 I paid with lifetime last fall was out of line at all. I don’t have cable/satellite, only use OTA, and have a Premiere, TiVo HD, & Series 3 sitting in the same rack (now all unplugged).

    Regarding place shifting – people have been doing that for over 30 years. VHS tapes moved around real easy from TV to TV no matter if the TVs where in the same house or not.

    All of this is about broadcasters trying to find more ways to get more fees plain and simple.

  11. There was always the hidden cost of high speed internet that Aereo needed to work and hard drive DVR’s don’t need, Tivo’s can also update their guide data through a phone line if need be. Aereo was never cheap as they made out to be. Want to watch through your TV, factor the price of a Roku in there too.

  12. HarryKerryJr. July 2, 2014 at 7:16 am

    1. I think getting a used Series 3 or HD is a better OTA option than the Series 4 as the S3/HD units have better OTA reception and they are cheaper to get used w/lifetime, and cordcutters, overall, are not really tech savvy and don’t want a Mini or a Stream anyway. However, I do think the best OTA option among TiVo’s, IF ONE CAN AFFORD IT, is the Roamio. It has 4 tuners and the option of the Mini and Stream for the more tech savvy, but the monthly and lifetime costs are almost always deal breakers for cordcutters who just don’t want a monthly fee on aggressive principle. Hence, a lot of cordcutters find the new Channel Master DVR+ the most appealing because of its lack of fees. No TiVo Mini like devices, but a Slingbox subs for the TiVo Stream, but all still pretty pricey.

    2. Dish (and Echostar) Chairman Charlie Ergen said on the last quarterly that his OTT service is set for late this year, and the reason for a late this year start was because of marketing (they want to get this targeted to the right demo just right on day one). Further, he was prepared to launch the service late this year without the latest Disney agreement because he already had enough services (channels) signed up, and even after Disney, more talks with still more channels, but he said those channels don’t want it known they are even talking about it, but he feels the OTT is compelling as is stands today. Ironic, after all the big boys promises (Apple, Google, Intel, etc.), it is, once again, little Charlie Ergen who will be first with a real OTT product for the streaming generation.

    3. We should not worry too much about other similar services like Slingbox being impacted by this wacky Supreme Court decision. The High Court did try to make it clear that this was a very narrow ruling and should not be taken to apply to similar services nor the emerging “cloud” services. In other words, the Court isn’t going to hear any of “those” cases (Slingbox, MSO DVR Cloud storage, or settled place shifting issues). The majority simply saw Areo or saw that it functioned as just another MVPD like Cable and Sat, and therefore, should pay the broadcasters, despite Areo meeting the tests. In other words, the Court seemed to be saying once everyone gets paid, have at it; we can place-shift all we want as those devices/services are private/personal and user initiated and don’t RESEMBLE an MVPD.

    4. The Supreme Court majority exercised “Judicial Activism”: going further than they should have in daring to figure out the intention of Congress (the “intent of Congress” was cited in the ruling) when it passed recent copyright law. It was the minority conservative judges who, while feeling that Aereo was a contrivance and should not be legal, nonetheless found Aereo to meet every test regarding “private performance / personal / user initiated” and, therefore, could only vote in favor of Aereo because they considered the facts and the law and believe that Congress knows its intent far better than the court. In other words, even if one accepts that Congress did not foresee such a service as Aereo, Congress is free at any time to change copyright law to explicitly or more broadly forbid Aereo and other like services. The majority felt comfortable taking the role of Congress and altering the law for them. I guess that saved Congress an embarrassing vote. And you’re right, Dave, Congress has no interest going near that election risky and NAB pressure issue and will just gladly let the Supreme Court ruling stand.

    5. The lower courts ruled on the facts and the law, as the 3 dissenting Justices. However, it was bizarre to see that the majority of the Supreme Court was the ONLY court NOT to do so and felt it could get into Congress’s head and legislate for them. Both left and right of the Supreme Court have exercised Judicial Activism, but it always stings and makes the heart heavy when they do so.

  13. atmusky, I agree with HarryKerryJr that most will find $600 or so hard to swallow for an OTA DVR. The reason I suggested Premiere versus S3/HD is that updates are still flowing onto the S4 platform, including an upcoming the Roamio UI refresh (although the faster SDUI may be preferred) and apps – DIAL for YouTube and Netflix is pretty handy and I’m still hoping we’ll see an updated Amazon at some point.

  14. “There was always the hidden cost of high speed internet that Aereo needed to work”

    I believe you are mistaken here. The Supreme Court was able to label Aereo a ‘cable company’ precisely because they own the last mile wire into your home, just like a cable company does…

  15. Chucky: Aereo didn’t lay any cable – it was delivered over the Internet.

    Dave: I agree that many people will find $600 high for an OTA DVR, I attribute that to the fact that most people have no way of knowing what the real difference is and what you get with a Roamio for the increased cost versus any other option. That said I also agree that If someone is located in a place where the Premiere doesn’t have reception issues and they want a DVR on more than 1 TV multiple used Premieres makes allot of sense and honestly so do multiple used TiVo HDs or Series 3 units.

  16. “Chucky: Aereo didn’t lay any cable”

    You obviously didn’t read the Supreme Court decision.

  17. What I meant by hidden cost of high speed internet, is that you are paying that cost, So take that 8 dollars a month and say another 35-40 dollars for high speed internet and you’re already getting near 50 dollars a month.

  18. Cranky late adopter July 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Four tuners for OTA? Is there enough programming to even justify that? I mean how many Singing Competitons and Crime Procedurals can one person need to have at one time?

  19. HarryKerryJr. July 4, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Cranky Late Adapter: Where have you been? :). In addition to the 5 networks (already over the 4 tuner limit), there is MeTV, Cozi TV, This TV, Antenna TV, Megahertz World with its great and varied detective series’ along with other programming, and even a few more English language channels on the OTA mux. Oh, yes, we do watch those channels.

  20. HarryKerryJr. July 4, 2014 at 5:16 am

    The points of Dave and others about the advantages of the newer S4 units are fair points, but most cordcutters I know don’t want bells and whistles. They just want a solid DVR to reliably record their shows with a decent enough UI, and the S3 line of TiVo’s fits that bill.

    As an owner of all the series of TiVo’s HD DVR’s, I have to say I still enjoy using my S3′s. They are faster in response than later series. The UI is not as cluttered as that “Discovery Bar” makes the S4 and S5 line, and the S3 is easily intuitive, just exactly what the cordcutters I know for: simplicity, no clutter and a solid DVR that just does that. They all have a Roku for everything else.

    And further, am I the only one who misses the idea of the animated backgrounds and animated little TiVo critter that were forsaken in the S4 and S5? :) I was thinking the wizards of Palo Alto were gonna give us new generation animated UI. I’m in tears now. Somehow, a static UI is just NOT a TiVo.

  21. Even Premiere prices are dropping like a rock – saw a lifetime Premiere maxed to 2TB for $250 on tivocommunity forums.

    I love my base Roamio (yes, 4 tuners are wonderful since broadcast shows usually don’t repeat until summer) but with even S4 models half the price…

  22. I picked up a 1st generation Simple.TV single tuner box on amazon last week. Attached it to an old USB hard drive I had laying around, literally shoved a piece of long wire into the antenna connector and I now have a DVR that captures ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW & Univision. $115 for the box, you could buy a similar HD to the one I’m using for $50, and I have a “lifetime subscription” OTA DVR for well under $200, even allowing for the cost of “real” antenna.

    I wasn’t an Aereo user, so I can’t compare to their service. I’m just a potential cord cutter.

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