Here’s the deal: A $12/month Aereo subscription buys you access to a remote antenna, which replaces old-fashioned rabbit ears. You get ABC, NBC, CBS, etc, without shelling out for basic cable. But local broadcasters don’t buy this argument, hence the lawsuit.
Now GigaOm reports that a company called Skitter is launching a new service that takes a different tack. Previously, Skitter offered an over-the-top solution to smaller telco providers who wanted to offer TV services. (Think would-be rural Time Warner Cables.) To make that work, they had to purchase retransmission licenses for any over-the-air broadcasts they’d be carrying. Now that they’ve got those licenses, according to the article, they’re using them to build a consumer business streaming live TV to Roku devices:
That means that the company can only offer its subscriptions in markets where it is partnering with a telco provider – but it’s also a pretty ingenious business move that could help Skitter to avoid the legal pressure Aereo and others have been facing.
So in Portland, Oregon, where they’ve just launched, they offer CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, plus the actual local PBS affiliate.
These two companies aren’t going head-to-head just yet: Skitter has those existing telco partners, but this new service is only available in Portland at the moment. Meanwhile, Aereo is limited to New York. But generally speaking, it’s easier to operate when you’re not working under a legal cloud.