Aereo -- the Internet TV startup that major broadcasters accuse of illegally retransmitting their content -- announced Monday that it has decided to make its service available to 19 million people living in the New York City metropolitan region.
The company also kicked off its first advertising campaign, which shuns TV ads in favor of outdoor advertising including billboards and phone-kiosk posters. Aereo markets itself as an alternative to cable, satellite or telco TV, with the tagline "No Cable Required."
The expanded New York coverage includes 29 counties across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, according to the company. Previously, Aereo was only available to residents of the five boroughs of New York City proper. In January, Aereo announced its intention to expand to 22 additional markets this year.
According to an Aereo spokesman the company has expanded to suburban New York areas after it added additional capacity.
“Creating more choice and a competitive marketplace is a good thing for consumers,” Aereo founded and CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement.
The New York-based company, whose backers include IAC's Barry Diller, offers live and DVR access to 30 local broadcast TV channels delivered over the Internet to various devices in the New York area. In addition, Bloomberg Television currently is available to Aereo's paying users for no additional charge.
Aereo’s first advertising campaign is debuting this week on New York City billboards, phone kiosks and at key city transit points, including waterways, commuter trains and PATH transit hubs this week. The company declined to disclose what it is spending on the campaign.
A spokesman for the company did confirm that the lack of a broadcast TV component to the ad buy was because Aereo didn't think that was going to fly with broadcasters. "Given the circumstances, Aereo figured that they would not carry them and decided not to pursue" a broadcast buy, he said.
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 2012 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.
Aereo is currently supported on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Apple TV (via airplay) and Roku devices.
Aereo said membership now is available to consumers residing in the following counties: in New York State, New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster, Sullivan, Orange, Dutchess; in Connecticut’s Fairfield County; in Pennsylvania’s Pike County; and in the following counties in New Jersey, Bergen, Warren, Union, Sussex, Somerset, Passaic, Ocean, Morris, Monmouth, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Hudson, and Essex.
A full list of eligible zip codes is available at aereo.com/support.
John Eggerton contributed to this article.