Aereo Reopens New York Online-TV Service to New Subscribers

Feb 06, 2014 10:46 am ET

(Updates with Atlanta capacity limit in fourth paragraph.)

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Aereo Inc., the online-television company that’s battling broadcasters in the Supreme Court, reopened its service to New York subscribers after regaining enough capacity to handle demand.

People who were on a waiting list are being notified first before the company reopens its website for sign-ups, Virginia Lam, a spokeswoman, said in a statement today. The company had stopped accepting new users in New York about a week ago.

Aereo uses thousands of dime-sized antennas to obtain broadcast signals without paying fees to networks such as CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc., drawing their ire. The company, backed by Barry Diller, operates in nine other U.S. cities, with plans to expand after it completed a $34 million round of funding last month. It hasn’t said how many subscribers it has in New York or elsewhere.

Just as it reopens in New York, Aereo has reached capacity in Atlanta. The company will notify customers there when new subscriptions will be offered, Lam said.

The Supreme Court agreed earlier this month to hear an appeal by media companies including CBS, Fox, Walt Disney Co.’s ABC and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, which contend Aereo violates their copyrights. Unlike Aereo, cable and satellite carriers pay the broadcasters for the right to distribute their programming, even though it’s available for free over the air through an antenna.

Fox is optimistic that the Supreme Court will rule in its favor this year, the company said today on a conference call with analysts.

--Editors: Crayton Harrison, James Callan