Save Aereo, because over-the-air TV is broken


The majority of people in the USA are busy chewing the heads off of chocolate bunnies, and hunting for eggs in their backyards this afternoon, however, a major decision that deeply impacts the future of home entertainment in this country will be made in just two days.

As has been well-documented on The Verge, Aereo, a small technology company, will face the major TV networks in the Supreme Court on April 22nd, in an effort to justify their business and existence. With all of the opinions expressed concerning this matter, there is one major point that doesn't seem to get much air time: it's the simple fact that D-TV antennas are prone to failure (much more so than analog antennas), and that Aereo's service is an affordable option that rectifies this critical flaw.

Most of the people I know pay to subscribe to cable television. A side effect of the widespread use of cable TV is that few people realize just how lousy D-TV antennas work these days. The majority of people I meet who use D-TV antennas typically have a difficult time getting good reception on more than two channels.

Back in the analog days, reception from TV antennas didn't work very well either. However, there is one major difference: with analog TVs and rabbit ears, you could usually suffer with a choppy looking picture, and fuzzy sounding audio, and still be able to follow along and watch TV shows, however unideal the reception may have been. With D-TV antennas, the image quality goes from crystal-clear perfection to unacceptably terrible, with zero steps in-between. So you're either getting a picture and audio that looks and sounds amazing, or you're getting nothing at all. In most of the apartments I've lived in, my amplified D-TV antenna failed to produce much at all.

As a New Yorker, Aereo is the best option I've encountered to reliably watch over-the-air TV. The irony is that New York City is covered with broadcasting towers, yet it's still incredibly difficult for most New Yorkers to get good reception on their TVs using antennas. As I stated in a post on my site earlier today:

"New Yorkers are bathing in busiest radio waves this side of Uranus, yet no one can watch TV."

The broadcasting system in the United States is fundamentally broken. TV reception is far worse than it was in the pre-digital era. If the Obama administration and the TV networks get their way in court, the ability for non-cable TV subscribing citizens to watch free, over-the-air broadcasts will be much more difficult, and in many cases, simply impossible.

How come I can rent a moving truck from U-Haul, because I don't own a truck, but I can't rent a remote D-TV antenna that works properly, because the one in my house fails to pick up more than two stations? This isn't a retransmission of content. Aereo provides a single transmission of the content to its customers, because the antennas in our homes do not work.

Why do you think we are paying Aereo $8 a month for their service? There is one simple reason: the mandatory transition to D-TV broadcasting was a complete failure to the people who watch over-the-air TV. D-TV antennas simply do not work, and it's unfair to strip the citizens of the United States of the one option that we have to watch the shows that our antennas are supposed to provide us with.

Photograph by Meltingdog