Many Mainstream Media Outlets Still Clueless About What Aereo’s Service Supports

There are a lot of news stories that come out each week about Aereo and nearly every day, Google Alerts notifies me of yet another mainstream outlet doing a story on the company or mentioning their service. While I get that some are excited by Aereo, I’m still amazed at how many people write about the service, having no clue what it does or does not support. The latest is a story by USA Today, which talks about cord cutting options, and mentions that Aereo “lets you watch regular TV on any device“. Really, any device?

For a news outlet like USA Today, let alone one that is doing a four-part series on cord cutting, you’d think they would get the basics right. Clearly they haven’t even tried the Aereo service, let alone looked at their website to see what it supports. Aereo has no support for Android devices, is not on game consoles, smart TVs, Blu-ray players or any dedicated streaming box outside of the Roku. And even on the Roku, Aereo is a “private channel” and isn’t promoted by Roku. And while Aereo lists support for Apple TV, they have no app on the box, it only works if you have an iPhone or iPad and use Airplay. The reality is that Aereo does not have a single native app on any device, outside of the iPhone and iPad. But these facts don’t stop USA Today from saying it works on “any device“.

In another article I read this week the author said, “Aereo allows subscribers to watch broadcast TV on Internet-connected devices”. Could you be any more generic? That makes it sound like Aereo is available everywhere. Is it too much trouble to have to actually research the topic you are writing about, let alone use the service? Sloppy reporting by those who are so quick and eager to write about Aereo because it’s a “hot” topic and company name now, rather than wanting to write someone that’s actually accurate and useful.

I expect more from someone like USA Today. Maybe I shouldn’t, but they are a mainstream outlet, they reach a lot of people and they have the responsibility to educate them properly. But clearly they aren’t worried about the content they are producing. They are currently doing a four-part series on cord cutting, with videos, and it’s terrible. The first video tells you to get an antenna so you can get channels over-the-air, and then shows devices from Roku, Apple TV and Netgear. None of which support antennas, something they probably don’t even know. They don’t say to plug the antenna into any of the boxes, but they talk about antennas and show streaming boxes all in one segment. Poorly scripted and poorly produced. Just another media outlet trying to jump into reporting on a hot topic, even though it’s clear thay have ZERO experience with the subject the are reporting on. But worse yet, they are doing a four-part series on the topic, trying to convince readers they know what they are talking about. How can you possibly give recommendations to readers on what products they can use to replace cable TV when you yourself don’t use the services you are talking about or know the details of how they work!?

Sadly, USA Today is not alone in their poor reporting. The AP did a story on Aereo last month saying the service, “allows computers and all mobile devices to receive local channels”. All mobile devices? No. And which “channels” specifically? They don’t say. The AP piece also went on to say that, “federal courts have ruled against claims that Aereo’s service constitutes copyright infringement, ” saying “Aereo’s service has now been validated”. The courts have not “validated” the service at all. So far, all the courts have denied is the broadcasters request for a preliminary injunction against Aereo. Whether or not Aereo’s service is legal has not yet been determined and will still have to be played out in court.

I also see many media outlets mention that Aereo has a “large” selection of channels, but very few ever mention what “large” means. Of the 32 channels Aereo has today for those in the NYC area, 10 of them are Spanish and Asian language channels. Of the 22 remaining, half of them I guarantee most have never heard of. So are less than a dozen channels, with content anyone actually cares about, really considered a “large” selection? Absolutely not.

I wish there was a rule that no member of the media could write about a consumer service, without actually using the service themselves and making the effort to get the facts right. No wonder why there is this misconception out in the market that Aereo will kill off cable TV. Many who are writing about the service make it sound like Aereo has all the content you could ever want, on any device you want, at any time, for only $8 a month. That false notion couldn’t be further from the truth. But why bother with facts.