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Is Aereo the new way to spell Hulu?


Published: 18 January, 2013


In-so-much as Hulu was a way of putting most of the content from the national broadcast channels onto a single web site, and showing partial content, and later some full content, and finally a fully paid subscription service, isn't that exactly what we've got at the start-up Aereo.

Last week at CES it landed $38 million in funding to roll out its paid OTT service across the US to some 97 million US people, around a third of the national footprint. Aereo shows the same shows as Hulu shows, except that it is delivered over the Internet from a miniature TV antenna, in an IT center. It also offers DVR functions at this center.

US Broadcasting thought that it would be successful in legal actions that would prevent anyone from doing this, but by resorting to a genuine antenna, and connecting it to a remote device - tablet, phone, PC - Aereo is remaining true to free to air principles, and the law allows it.

So for $8 and up a month you can get TV on any number of devices (one device at a time) over the internet, however you receive that, be it fixed line, 4G wireless, a WiFi hotspot or at work. And because this is effectively a loophole, other companies will find this hard to copy, either because they are not using the primary form of delivery, over the radio waves, or because they infringe on Aereo intellectual property.

So has Aereo overnight become the new Hulu, and as the actual Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, resigned last week, likely because of the intransigence of Hulu's owners, who wanted to reduce its access to their content - NBC, Disney and Fox. Surely without Kilar to fight its corner, Hulu will slowly spiral out of existence, making a hole that Aereo could easily fill.

And if that happens, then Aereo will become a hot property indeed, and buyers will form an orderly queue to make its founders rich, and that might include any of Google, Apple, Samsung or Microsoft.

Rethink TV will shortly be delivered via the RethinkResearch twitter feed, be sure you sign up to it @rethinkresearch

Comcast Arris deal threatens cable eco-system

Comcast moved this week to help out Arris, the vendor that bought Motorola Home from Google last week for around $2.35 billion. Comcast only had to pay $150 million for a 10% stake, and yet a 10% stake in Motorola Home at the price that Arris had to pay, would have been $235 million. This is because Arris is valued by the stock market at less than the cash it paid for Motorola.

It will likely be a good investment, because Comcast can ensure that the Arris Motorola combination continues to get good product orders from itself, and if Arris remains more or less that same size as it is today, its value will slowly ease up to $3 billion to $4 billion over the course of the next year, more than doubling its price today. Investors just need to see Arris stem the tide of Motorola deal losses.

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