Aereo announced today that Atlanta will be next to have access to the company’s streaming live TV service when it goes live on June 17 for customers who pre-register, followed by a general rollout on June 24.
With more than 5.3 million people in Atlanta’s metropolitan area, this is a big market for Aereo to enter, though it’s slightly bigger than Boston, which was the most recent expansion, yet much smaller than New York. The sprawl of the signal will mean that 55 counties in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina will also gain access.
There will be 27 over-the-air broadcast channels accessible through Aereo’s service in Atlanta, including major networks such WSB-HD (ABC), WAGA-TV (FOX), WXIA-TV (NBC), WGCL-TV (CBS) and WPBA (PBS). Service will also include special channels like France24, BounceTV, MyTV, and AntennaTV, plus Spanish-language Univision, MundoFox, and UniMas.
This move comes amid a firestorm of a legal dispute between broadcasters, especially CBS, and Aereo over the latter’s use of free over-the-air TV signals. The broadcasters contend that Aereo illegally takes the signals and streams them over the Internet without any consent or royalty. Aereo argues that it’s only providing access to channels on laptops and mobile devices that are already free to begin with. Broadcasters also take issue with the fact users can pause, rewind and fast-forward programs, or save them to a DVR.
Aereo won a stunning court decision over 17 broadcast networks in April at New York’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and has since filed its own suit against CBS to protect its future expansion, signaling that the legal ramifications of the upstart company’s business model will continue to become a lightning rod for broadcasters. CBS and Fox have both threatened to go cable-only if Aereo isn’t stopped.
There is no word on which city will be next, but Aereo has already outlined an aggressive expansion plan that will see it enter 22 markets by the end of year after its home base in New York. The broadcasters have threatened to seek legal injunctions that would force Aereo to stop operating. Looks like the battle of the TV airwaves will continue on.