You thought that language was getting complicated when Bill Clinton said, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Now a great national legal debate is going to hinge on what the definition of broadcast is.
But first, some background.
Aereo is an $8-a-month service that lets you tune in to TV channels that are broadcast over the air, from the comfort of your own laptop or tablet. We’re talking about the channels that ordinarily require an antenna to receive. Or you can record them, using something like a TiVo that’s installed at Aereo headquarters on your behalf.
Who needs TV this way?
At least a million people a year are “cutting the cord” — canceling their cable TV or satellite service. They get their TV fix by watching shows supplied by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. And they save a ton of money. (Here’s our Yahoo Tech guide to cutting the cord.)
If you think about it, the shows you can get from Aereo are exactly the ones that cord-cutters can’t get on their computing devices any other way: local news, sports, talk shows, sitcoms. Aereo is ingenious, really, and it is essential for a lot of cord-cutters. iPads don’t have antenna inputs.
Using Aereo is simplicity itself. You can find shows by scrolling through a channel grid. It’s manageable, since it’s only 35 channels.
Or you can use Aereo’s very smart search box. You can search for shows’ names, of course. But you can also type keywords, genres, dates, or networks. Or combo phrases like “on NBC tomorrow night,” or “comedy on CBS.”
Anything that’s being broadcast right now, you can watch live (actually, delayed about 6 seconds from real time). The quality is surprisingly good, if you have a fast Internet connection. As with any online video service, the picture grows pixelated and blotchy as your Internet connection deteriorates.