Paying for Aereo Is a No-brainer

(This post probably is not useful to anyone outside of the US)

I’ve been without cable for a few years now, using a combination of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and an HD Homerun. This past week Aereo launched in Detroit and after 30 seconds of using it I stumbled over backwards to pay for it.

Here’s the part that Aereo fills in. Right now here is what each service provides:

  • Netflix - The archive of movies and TV shows.
  • Amazon Prime - Same as Netflix, but also has first run shows available immediately if you want to pay for them (which I can’t do on Netflix)
  • HD Homerun - Local television.

The problem with my HD Homerun is that all it does is take OTA cable signals and put them on my network. This is handy, except it’s not integrated nicely on my Roku nor my Plex/XBMC setup. And at the end of the day, it basically is a retransmitter. Aereo is much more. And since I don’t have a dedicated PC in my living room (Just a Roku), if I want to watch the Lions game this Thanksgiving I need to hook up a PC to my computer, toss the URL in VLC and then fullscreen it.

With Aereo I don’t need hardware other than my Roku, PCs, or phones – and it does more than retransmit, it also provides a DVR-like service to my shows. That means I get the equivalent of a Tivo for my OTA broadcasts. Now, combine that with Netflix and Amazon Prime and all my bases are covered, one ONE DEVICE (the Roku). That means I can just record all the Lions games and watch them from anywhere. Now I can have people come over without them flipping out that I don’t have sports or local news.

Ah, my trifecta is now complete. $27 a month for all three, not bad!

The one complaint I have is that these services still force you into the “channel” model. That is, the channel is a first class thing in the UI. I think this is backwards; ideally I wish to have all the TV shows be available as an aggregate from every “channel”, and then I browse/search by grammer/content. When I pick “The X-Files”, then tell me my backend options. Of course, this model will likely never fly with the content providers, alas only my old Boxee Box ever got that right.

All in all, a great deal at $7 a month (I got the multiple antenna provider and more space for an extra 4 bucks) – and as a bonus the service is so innovative that the incumbents don’t even know what to do other than sue. Gotta love it.