Remember Aereo, the startup that tried to offer over-the-air TV via the internet only to have the Supreme Court shut it down? Well, another company is picking up the OTA dream where Aereo left off.
Mohu, which describes itself as the “cord cutting company,” is launching a product called the AirWave at CES 2017. Similar to Aereo, it lets users watch live OTA TV shows on any device, but it goes further: The AirWave integrates live TV channels with over-the-top streaming services into a single app.
That’s pretty cool, but it also differs from Aereo in a way that might put it on more solid legal footing: The AirWave is essentially an antenna paired with an app, meaning the user will have have to set it up in their own home (Aereo required users to lease an antenna in a remote location). That means the OTA content will be limited to what’s available locally and receivable by the AirWave. Only devices on the same Wi-Fi network as the AirWave will be able to stream the broadcasts.
The AirWave pushes over-the-air TV broadcasts through Wi-Fi so you can watch from anywhere.
The AirWave is an indoor antenna that looks like a curved, rectangular shield. There’s no wired connection — its function is to receive broadcast HDTV signals and then transfer them to your home Wi-Fi network. Then you can watch those shows via the Mohu TV app, which the company says will be available on all the popular streaming platforms: Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. There’ll also be dedicated iOS and Android apps as well as a web interface. It’ll cost $149.99, and the company says it’ll be available exclusively at Best Buy in the spring.
Assuming the video quality holds up after all that transferring, the AirWave sounds like an ingenious way to easily add over-the-air channels to the pool of content available to cord-cutters. Usually, you’d need to connect an antenna directly to a TV and then set it up as an entirely different input, typically forgotten. With AirWave, your broadcast TV becomes just another app on the device you’re using most of the time.
Services like DirecTV Now and Sling TV offer strong lineups, but the one thing they’ve struggled with the most is integrating local channels. Mohu’s service solves that problem, but it’s possible it could see legal challenges from the networks, just like Aereo did.
Because users host the antenna, and there doesn’t appear to be a DVR function, Mohu’s AirWave may be immune to much of the legal objections launched at Aereo. And it doesn’t really change the game: The options for watching broadcast TV from an antenna have historically been limited to how long your coaxial cable is, and since viewing is limited to the range of your Wi-Fi network that still holds true. However, Mohu reps didn’t rule out adding the ability to stream content over the internet (similar to how Slingbox works) in the future.