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Cutting the cord on traditional cable and satellite television services is easier than ever these days with such services as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video and iTunes. The benefits include cheaper pricing and higher quality content. But the huge drawback to these services is that none offer live broadcasts.

Enter Aereo, a company that provides live streams of major broadcast networks over the internet which can be enjoyed on devices such as the iPad. Aereo captures the live broadcasts, digitizes the feed, then streams the content via a web browser to your desktop, laptop, iPad or iPhone. 

How does it work?

Traditional over-the-air television required a rooftop antenna, or rabbit ears if you’re old enough to remember them. Aereo avoids legal issues by offering each subscriber two dedicated antennas, which are stored in their warehouse. One antenna receives signal from other subscribers, while the other antenna broadcasts signal to other subscribers. You can read more about it on their site.

The service is available via a web browser on a desktop, laptop, iPad or iPhone.  Once you sign up for it, simply log into their website and start watching shows. Available networks in the New York area include CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, CW, PBS and others. But these over-the-air networks aren’t the only available channels on Aereo. Last summer Bloomberg TV signed on, making it the first cable network to join onboard with Aereo. If more cable networks follow suit, this trend could seriously start to disrupt the traditional pay television business model.

How much does it cost?

Pricing starts at $8 per month, which features 20 hours of recorded programming. For $12 a month you can record up to 60 hours of programming. The recorded content is probably the most appealing feature of Aereo. Your recorded content is entirely stored in the cloud, so you can watch your recorded shows from any device that supports the service. This is a huge advantage over most cable and satellite subscriptions.

Where is it available?

This is the tricky part, as Aereo started in the New York city area when it launched. Only New York City zip codes were accepted, so being a resident 60 miles north of NYC I was originally out of luck. But at the start of 2013 the service has expanded to the tri-state area, and has exploded across parts of the US. You can check to see if it’s available in your area on their site.

The Interface

As any Apple device lover will tell you, any product or service can only be successful if it’s easy to use. Aereo’s interface, for the most part, delivers such an experience. It closely resembles a traditional cable/satellite box experience, while offering a distinct advantage with the use of a touchscreen device such as the iPad.

From the main menu, click the Guide button and Aereo displays a listing of available channels and the current live show. Scroll vertically to surf through the channels for the current day and time, scroll horizontally to see what’s on in the days ahead. A huge advantage this has over traditional cable and satellite boxes is with use of a touchscreen device. On the iPad, navigating through the channel listing is much faster and easier.

Aereo + AirPlay

Watching these live broadcasts on the iPad is a joy, but can that alone cut the cord on cable and satellite subscriptions? I’d say that’s difficult to do considering, in most households, more than one person will watch television simultaneously. Have no fear, Aereo fully supports AirPlay.

Once you select a channel, click Watch and the stream starts. Like all other video playback on the iPad, simply click the AirPlay icon and select your Apple TV. What’s neat about this is that you can continue to use your iPad for other applications while Aereo continues to stream to your Apple TV.

Aereo gives iOS devices an advantage over other products and services since it’s currently not yet supported for Android. For as little as $8 a month Aereo can be supplemented with other internet based services for folks looking to cut the cord on traditional cable and satellite television subscriptions once and for all.

What I like most about Aereo is its stability and quality. I watch hours of streaming programming via AirPlay without the slightest hiccup; credit Apple also obviously. My iPad 2 and my second generation Apple TV work wonderfully with Aereo. The downside to Aereo right now is that there aren’t many channels to watch yet, hopefully over time more non-traditional television networks join on-board. But for $8 a month with 20 hours of programming, this gives you a nice supplement to many of the popular video streaming services available over the internet. I definitely feel this is a service worth trying, especially since Aereo gives you a free first month to try. What do you have to lose?

Do you think Aereo has a shot in disrupting the traditional TV business model? Hit up the comments and let us know what you think!

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