An antenna company is giving away 1,000 free antennas for the cord-cutting Aereo subscribers who have been cut off after the Supreme Court found Aereo to be in violation of copyright law.
The St.Louis-based Antennas Direct, whose president Richard Schneider published a blog post celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision on Aereo last week, has promised to deliver a rooftop antenna valued at $129.99 to anyone who can provide a copy of their Aereo bill and the $10 shipping fee. The antenna is intended to take the place of the Aereo-leased antennas that provided broadcast signals to its customers, who as of June 28 could no longer access the signals. Antennas Direct is tying the promotion to the 4th of July holiday weekend, touting the offer as one that will give Aereo subscribers “their independence to free broadcast television.”
Scott Kolbe, a spokesperson for Antennas Direct, admitted the company was seeking publicity, and that the company hopes the promotion will lead to more awareness of home antennas as a cord-cutting option. Still, “it is a sincere offer,” he said.
“I think the frustration we had with all of this discussion about Aereo is that it’s not challenging to get over-the-air reception,” Kolbe said.
Perhaps not. But as the Los Angeles Times noted, the antennas offered by Antennas Direct do not give customers the ability to view live television on the Internet, as Aereo did -- by relaying content streamed from its own computers to subscribers; a mechanism that sidestepped retransmission fees and opened Aereo up to charges of copyright infringement that led to the Supreme Court’s decision.
Kolbe acknowledged that Antennas Direct's free antennas did not offer a complete replacement for the services offered by Aereo. But he is confident that antenna ownership nonetheless holds appeal to cord-cutters.
“I think [eventually] the industry is going to innovate and use DVR technology to deliver content to people’s mobile devices,” he said. But for now, “we think there are still a lot of people who like the idea of getting over-the-air broadcast for free. “
Kolbe said Antennas Direct has already begun to see an influx of orders, and expects that the company will give away all of the allotted antennas, though he has heard from people who claim to be Aereo subscribers but don’t have the necessary documentation. He spoke of one person who sent a photo of their dog, named Aereo, as a substitute for a billing statement. Kolbe did not say whether or not this person will receive a free antenna.