Aereo to NYC: Sorry, we’re ‘sold out’

Aereo antenna (dime)

Aereo, the company that serves up network broadcasting to computers and mobile devices via tiny antennae, has endured near constant litigation since its inception two years ago. But recently Aereo has run into a problem in the city of its birthplace, New York, that has nothing to do with a courtroom for once: It’s too popular.

Aereo is currently at full capacity in its New York market. When attempting to sign up for the service in the area, customers receive a message back from Aereo that states, “Thanks for your interest in Aereo! We are currently sold out in New York.” 

According to a recent CNET report, the reason Aereo is maxed out in NYC isn’t a server storage issue, but a simple shortage of antennae, which not only provide the company’s means to rebroadcast network content, but also the legal technicality that has allowed Aereo to stay in business. Since each user must rent a personal antenna for the service to work, Aereo claims its service is a private performance, which is legal under current U.S. law — at least that’s how Aereo sees it. The major media conglomerates, on the other hand, beg to differ.

Aereo has become extremely popular by providing users a way to watch network broadcasts at their leisure through its cloud-based DVR services, starting at $8/month. The company does not pay any licensing fees to do so, which is what has gained it the ire of broadcasters who see the growing service as a threat to the entire paradigm of broadcast television.

As Aereo has expanded, multiple lawsuits have been filed across the U.S. from the big four networks, local affiliates, and even PBS. For the most part, Aereo has emerged unscathed, but judges have been torn on the issue, coming down on both sides. As such, the battle will soon culminate in a final showdown to be decided by the Supreme Court.

Still, it seems apparent from its recent overextension in New York that the people have spoken, and as long as it’s still allowed to operate, Aereo isn’t going anywhere. An Aereo spokesman told CNET in an interview that the company has been working overtime to add more capacity in existing markets. The spokesman further stated that once capacity is added, “new consumers will be notified that they can sign up and create an Aereo account.”

Evidenced by its expansion into 11 markets over two years, it’s obvious that Aereo certainly has been working overtime. If you want in before the big Supreme Court case goes down, Aereo is currently available in the metropolitan areas of Cincinnati, Boston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Denver and Baltimore.

As for New York residents, for now, you’ll have to wait in line.

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