Controversial Internet TV service Aereo will launch service in the Boston metropolitan area in May, the company said Tuesday. Those that preregistered for the company’s offering will receive invitations to join starting May 15, and the general public gains access on May 30.
Aereo’s Boston service will cover about 4.5 million people, including 16 counties in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and offer 29 channels to subscribers at launch. Boston is the second city after New York to gain access to Aereo’s streaming over-the-air service, and 20 more cities will come online through the end of the year.
The service works through a method that assigns each subscriber an individual miniature antenna at one of Aereo’s data centers. These antennas are connected to the Internet, which gives consumers the ability to watch over-the-air programming through a variety of devices, and Aereo to avoid costly broadcast TV licensing.
This method is obviously controversial. The major broadcast networks sued Aereo shortly after its launch last year claiming copyright infringement. A judge denied an injunction against the company, which allowed the service to move forward.
“Consumers deserve more choice and flexibility in how they experience television and Aereo provides them a high-quality, rationally-priced alternative,” founder and CEO Chet Kanoja argued.
Whether Aereo can truly be successful remains to be seen. The service only rebroadcasts local channels and their digital sub-channels so far, which are readily available through a standard HDTV antenna. Bloomberg News is the only cable channel to come to an agreement with Aereo to rebroadcast its programming, and gaining the support of cable networks seems key to Aereo’s future success.