Aereo Cuts Carriage Deal With Bloomberg TV

Internet TV Startup Adds Financial News Channel to Over-the-Top Service

Aereo, the Internet TV startup being sued for copyright infringement by major broadcasters, has added Bloomberg TV to its over-the-top streaming and DVR service available for a little as $8 per month -- its first deal with a cable network.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, although the companies confirmed Aereo is paying to carry the financial news network. Aereo spokeswoman Virginia Lam said there is “no timeline on additional [content] partnerships at this time.”

“Bloomberg Television offers exceptionally high quality business news content and we believe that our members will see deep value adding in Bloomberg Television as their ‘go-to’ source for financial news,” Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said in an emailed statement. “With this partnership, Aereo continues to deliver innovative, easy to use technology, more choice for consumers, and an exceptional consumer experience.”

The network said in a statement, "Bloomberg Television is dedicated to bringing world-class business news and market information to viewers, and we are pleased to have Aereo among our broadcast distribution partners." Bloomberg TV currently is available to about 70 million U.S. households.

Kanojia has previously discussed Aereo’s intent to add subscription video content to the service.

Although Kanojia ruled out Aereo becoming a “virtual MSO” with a full live TV lineup competitive with traditional cable and satellite operators, “There’s a bunch of viewers who like the idea of broadcast with online content... The value/price equation [of pay TV] is absolutely skewed,” he said at Multichannel News/B&C’s “TV’s Cloud Power” event in September.

The company, whose backers include IAC's Barry Diller, offers a service in its initial New York City market that provides live and DVR access to 28 local broadcast TV channels, delivered over the Internet to various devices. However, unlike with Bloomberg TV, Aereo is not paying any fees to deliver those local channels, insisting that it is simply acting as a proxy for free over-the-air antenna reception on behalf of its subscribers.

As a result, broadcasters have sued Aereo for copyright infringement, arguing the service amounts to retransmission and that the startup is subject to the same rules as cable, satellite and telco TV operators.

Aereo won a legal victory in July when a federal district court judge denied a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by a group of 17 network broadcasters to shut down the startup. That ruling relied on a previous appeals court ruling that Cablevision Systems' Remote Storage DVR service did not violate copyright laws. The broadcasters suing Aereo have appealed the ruling and their civil litigation is pending.

Aereo's pricing plans include: $1 per day with three hours of DVR storage; $8 per month with 20 hours; $12 per month with 40 hours; and $80 per year for 40 hours of storage. The company also offers a free sampling option with access to the service for a continuous one-hour period every day.

In New York City, Aereo’s channel lineup includes such networks as WABC, WNBC, WCBS, WNYW-FOX, WPIX-11, WNET-PBS and PBS Kids. The company markets the service as an alternative to pay-TV service with the tagline, "No cable needed."

In 2013, Aereo expects to expand beyond its initial New York City market to as many as 15 additional cities. The service uses geolocation technology to verify users are accessing Aereo in the relevant broadcast TV market.

Separately, Bloomberg TV had been fighting with Comcast to be repositioned  its "news neighborhoods" in larger markets. The FCC in May ordered Comcast to add the business news channel into news neighborhoods in 106 headends -- spanning the 35 largest U.S. markets -- to comply with a condition of the commission's approval of the NBCUniversal deal. But the FCC's Media Bureau stayed the portion of the order relating to Comcast channel lineups with only one standard-definition news neighborhood below channel 100. Bloomberg has requested a review of that stay.