Aereo is testing a Chromecast app, CEO Chet Kanojia said today. The app would effectively bring the company’s streaming broadcast TV service full circle in a historical sense, returning broadcast TV to the TV. From locally installed antennas on Aereo property to mobile devices and browsers around the United States to the Google streaming media dongle to the display on your TV, this confluence of technology is poised to bring the broadcast and cable TV lawsuit machine down even harder on Aereo — if it’s even possible for this David-and-Goliath legal saga to get more spectacular.
The Aereo service has been getting the lawsuit treatment from every major TV broadcaster and cable conglomerate (and sports league) out there. So far the small company has won all of those legal battles as judges haven’t found any hard evidence of copyright infringement. But the war isn’t over: the Supreme Court is reviewing the case and a decision is expected sometime in 2014.
Kanojia didn’t mention a release date for the Chromecast app. Currently, Aereo subscribers pay as little as $8 a month to get streaming broadcast TV through Aereo. The company uses tiny antennas to receive broadcast signals at its offices in a handful of cities around the country. It converts that data for streaming over the Internet to mobile phones, tablets and personal computers via the Aereo app.
The Chromecast dongle — an entirely separate technology manufactured by an entirely separate company, Google — can receive media from mobile devices using various Chromecast-enabled mobile services like YouTube, Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, and Google Play Movies — and as of today, Plex, Vevo, Songza, RealPlayer, Viki, and more as time goes on. The dongle plugs into the HDMI port of an HDTV and streams what’s playing in enabled apps. Playback is in turn controllable through those apps.
Together, Aereo, Chromecast, and smart TV manufacturers are making broadcasters and cable providers quake in their boots, and rightly so. Technologies like these, if the courts allow them to continue proliferating, could eventually overthrow the status quo. What this means in terms of real dollars, programming options, and technical quality at the consumer stratum remains to be seen many years out.