How about an Aereo chip in an iMac?
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How about an Aereo chip in an iMac?

In my never-ending quest to come up with new features for the 27-inch iMac -- and you're welcome, Tim Cook -- which is one of my two favorite Macs, I had this thought: what about an Aereo chip in iMac?

According to "The New York Times" (http://macte.ch/UMOWa) an online television company called Aereo (https://aereo.com) has come up with a way to stream local television stations to paying subscribers on the Internet, "potentially forming a new cord-cutting threat for cable and satellite distributors." The company recently unveiled the service, and it will go live in New York City only (for now) in March for US$12 per month.

Aereo will stream all programming of the major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) and will include an Internet-powered digital video recorder. No cable or satellite channels are offered. However, the service will only work as long as users are in the local market.

"If you have this and you have Netflix, you absolutely have the ability to not have a standard cable subscription," says Chet Kanojia, the founder and CEO of Aereo.

Barry Diller, who created the Fox network 30 years ago and now wants to free it and other networks from the chains of what he calls the "closed cable-broadcast-satellite circle," is one of the financial backers of Aereo. He told the "Times" that it "pries over-the-air broadcast television out of that closed system."

BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield told clients that "if Aereo is, in fact legal, we find it hard to fathom that the traditional (pay TV) bundle will survive and that retrans payments will continue to scale as broadcasters are expecting them to over the next several years." However, Greenfield acknowledges that broadcasters likely will take Aereo to court for selling their services without paying retransmission consent fees.

The "Deadline" web site (http://macte.ch/2TgDk) says that the company hopes to get around that by saying that it has tiny antennae for each customer; users effectively rent them to pick up the free, over-the-air signals that they can receive at home. That case would be similar to the one that Cablevision successfully made on behalf of its remote storage DVR, notes "Deadline."

The Aereo antenna is small enough to fit on the tip of your finger. It works by connecting to the Internet. Imagine an iMac with a built-in Aereo antenna (which the company would probably allow for free to lure in lots of Mac subscribers to its monthly service). Such an iMac -- coupled with Netflix and Hulu -- could make a pretty decent TV -- or secondary TV -- for a lot of us.

At least until the blessed day comes when the "iTV" arrives with a la carte programming (cue music of heavenly choirs singing).

-- Dennis Sellers

 

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