Aereo comes to Baltimore one week from today. Are you ready?

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

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So. Do you have anything going on next week? Say, about this same time on this same day, exactly one week from now? Monday, Dec. 16, it is. Nine days before Christmas. Fifteen days before the end of 2013. Got plans? Last-minute holiday shopping? Mulling the year’s best music? A trip to some warm-weather destination, fully equipped with a lack of snow and ice?

Well, busy or not, you ought to take note: Aereo is coming to Baltimore. Lorraine Mirabella, you’re up …

“The technology, which converts TV broadcast signals into computer data sent over the Internet, will be available to more than 2.7 million consumers in Baltimore city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties,” she wrote Thursday. “In Baltimore, the basic subscription includes 17 over-the-air channels, such as ABC affiliate WMAR, NBC affiliate WBAL, CBS affiliate WJZ, PBS and others, plus 20 hours of DVR storage.”

And this, as someone who lives a little more than a stone’s throw away from those counties would say, is my sad face (side: Live in one of those areas and thinking about seeing what all the fuss is about? Email me at cmcguire@newspost.com).

Taking the wide view of the story was CNet’s Joan E. Solsman, who noted some fairly substantial chinks in Aereo’s armor …

“The company aimed to expand from its New York home base to 22 total cities in the US this year, but has been held back (because of) technical difficulties on top of accumulating legal wrangling,” she wrote. “With Baltimore, it will be in 10 cities, comprising NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, Detroit and Denver.”

Leading us to ask … Baltimore before D.C.? Really? Wow. Interesting.

With a little more than three weeks left in the year, is it now time to label the much-talked-about start-up a failure or a success? Maybe not, but hey: We’ll give it a shot anyway.

The short answer, possibly shaded by my rose-colored glasses when it comes to this stuff, is success. Try as they might, gigantic corporations and big-time networks can’t seem to win a court case against Easy A and that matters. Founded in February 2012, Aereo has run amok for nearly two years now without being even slightly shut down. If someone or something was going to actually stop its progression, conventional wisdom suggests that they or it would have had at least the tinniest bit of success by now.

But that hasn’t happened. Barry Diller, he of billionaire-who-founded-FOX-fame, is clearly willing to see this thing through. If both sides have to end up on the steps of the Supreme Court to defend their positions, both seem willing to do so. The problem, if you’re a major cable provider? It takes a loooooonnngggg time to get to those steps. The longer the whole thing takes, the more powerful — or at least embedded — Aereo becomes.

The long answer, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as promising. As Solsman pointed out, this thing should already be up and running in Chicago, but it’s not because of reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Windy City or no Windy City, though, the company will more than likely end the year by reaching only about half its expansion goals for 2013 and you’ve got to wonder if there are more disastrous implications behind those failures. The one key element to building something from the ground up is perception — the fake-it-until-you-make-it moniker can work wonders (check out this blog!) when creating sustainability. The last thing you need if you’re getting sued left and right is a bundle of press releases explaining that you’re about to go bankrupt or something.

Either way, Aereo is still a phenomenon anybody with a slight interest in television or the Internet ought to pay attention to. “What Aereo is doing to bring broadcast signals to its customers is interesting. If it is found legal, we could conceivably use similar technology,” Mike Hogan, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Rich Barrett last month (the service is supposed to launch in Wisconsin at the beginning of next year). Hogan’s right — part of what makes these court cases so imperative is the impact Aereo may have on how the big boys ultimately end up getting their product to consumers. Even if they hate what Diller is doing (and they do), they can’t deny the possible ramifications of its success, moving forward.

For now, though, we sit and wait to see how the roll-out goes in the Charm City. Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties: Get ready for your close up.

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