You Don’t Even Want to Think About Aereo’s Con Ed Bill

It's not like the startup can just tell its irresponsible roommates to stop leaving the lights on, DID YOU GUYS HEAR THAT?

Kiss all this goodbye (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Kiss all this goodbye (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Aereo’s a techie darling with a big-name backer in Barry Diller, but that doesn’t mean its path to success is lined with rose petals. Of course there are the legal challenges from pissy broadcasters, but the Wall Street Journal points out the company faces another challenge: Keeping all those antennas running.

The Journal recently visited the company’s Brooklyn facility and started doing a little back-of-the-envelope math. CEO Chet Kanojia says each of the company’s big boxes (full of dime-sized antennas) supports 10,000 to 15,000 subscriptions. That suggests the startup has 90,000 to 135,000 New York subscribers. Mr. Kanojia has said the facility could support up to 350,000.

If those numbers are correct (a big if!), that warehouse is sucking down a whole hell of a lot of power. The Journal says:

“In power terms, that translates to between 1.75 and 2.1 megawatts, nearly as much power as it would take to light up two NFL football stadiums. Paying for 2 megawatts costs about $2 million a year in New York, estimates Gabe Cole, CEO of technology consulting firm RTE Group Inc., who said New York is one of the most expensive markets in the country in which to buy power.”

Mr. Kanojia admitted that, yes, electricity is “one of the biggest challenges” Aereo is dealing with. The company is working on ways to reduce its costs, whether through combining pieces of equipment or even generating its own power.

You can disrupt your face off, but that doesn’t mean the old-fashioned analogue challenges of running a business are going to simply vanish. You Don’t Even Want to Think About Aereo’s Con Ed Bill