Aereo's Internet TV pricing is simpler, but not cheaper

By on May 13, 2013, 3:00 PM

Aereo, the controversial broadcast television Internet streaming startup, will be simplifying its pricing structure on May 15. Gone will be the company's five service tiers and in their place will remain two: an $8-per-month and $12-per-month subscription with varying amount of cloud-based DVR storage. Prices for those plans will remain unchanged.

Currently, Aereo offers five flavors of service: Try for Free (one hour free per day), Day Pass ($1 per day), two monthly plans at $8 and $12 and an annual subscription for $80-per-year. Come May 15 though, the company intends to leave only its monthly plans intact, culling its yearly, day pass and one-hour-gratis options.

Existing $8 and $12 monthly plans are currently paired up with 20 and 40 hours of cloud-based DVR storage, respectively. After tomorrow though, its $12-per-month plan will be bumped to 60 hours of DVR space while its $8-per-month offering will remain untouched.

Existing subscribers will continue to get what they originally signed up for (e.g. $80 for a yearly subscription); however, those subscribers will be grandfathered in once their subsciption expires.

"We looked at our data and it was clear, consumers want a more simple approach to pricing," Aereo's CEO Chet Kanojia stated. "With our new pricing structure, consumers begin with one base plan and then have the ability to upgrade their membership to triple their DVR storage capacity."

Interestingly, the absence of dual-channel DVR capability from its press release may indicate yet one other big change. Aereo currently offers its annual and $12-per-month subscribers the capacity to record two channels as once. It is being reported that Aereo isn't advertising dual-channel recording though... for any plans.

When Gizmodo asked Aereo about this, the company responded, "The new pricing plan applies to new Aereo members. Current Aereo members will continue to enjoy the benefits of their original plans until the end of their current membership plan period." Aereo continued, "Current $12/month members will be automatically upgraded to 60 hours of DVR storage capacity."

Aereo's evasive non-answer doesn't clarify things, but its apparent indirection only lends credence to the discontinuation of simultaneous channel recording. Even so, chalk this one up as a rumor -- one destined to be dispelled in just a couple of days.

One possible motivation -- and this is just speculation -- for Aereo to end its dual-channel DVR feature may be legal issues. Since it began, the company has been sued for being an unauthorized rebroadcaster. Aereo contends its 1:1 antenna-to-subscriber model protects it, making it a sort-of "media transcoder" versus a true, royalty-owing rebroadcaster. Simultaneous recordings though require more than one broadcast source; in the case of Aereo, that may mean more than one antenna per subscriber.

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