TiVo says it can mimic Aereo without ending up in court


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After the U.S. Supreme Court deemed Aereo illegal, TiVo thinks it can bring the broadcast DVR service back from the dead.

Speaking to Multichannel News, TiVo CEO and President Tom Rogers said the company was working on a legal version of Aereo, which allowed users to stream live and recorded over-the-air shows to phones, tablets, computers, and televisions. “The question is, how do you do that?” Rogers said. “To us, the answer is pretty clear—it’s kind of the Aereo model, done legally and better.”

Instead of making users set up their own antennas, Aereo stored them in its own warehouses, then streamed the signal to subscribers through the Aereo apps and website. Because each subscriber was assigned a separate antenna, Aereo argued that the service was legal, akin to watching with your own antenna at home.

Broadcast networks sued, and the Supreme Court agreed with their arguments, deeming the service illegal last June. Aereo filed for bankruptcy, and TiVo acquired Aereo’s brand name and customer list in the resulting auction earlier this year.

TiVo has shown a greater interest in cord cutting lately, with a version of its Roamio DVR just for over-the-air broadcasts. The DVR service costs $15 per month, though TiVo briefly experimented with a $300 lifetime service offer. As for Aereo’s comeback, TiVo says it’ll reveal more details about the service at a press event in late July.

Why this matters: As more people cut the pay-TV cord, broadcast channels are becoming a powerful supplement to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Aereo was quick to realize this, and offered a convenient service that worked across many devices. While legal alternatives already exist (including Tablo and HDHomeRun), the up-front hardware costs and setup are barriers to mass adoption. It’ll be interesting to see if TiVo can do any better without running afoul of the law.

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