Peter Kafka

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Aereo Says New Content Deals Coming for Web TV

Aereo, the start-up that lets users watch broadcast TV over the Web, is branching out.

CEO Chet Kanojia says his IAC-backed company will soon start offering programming that doesn’t come from local TV stations, which he’ll sell for an additional fee.

“We have done a few deals” with content owners, Kanojia said during an interview at a Goldman Sachs media conference this morning. “You’ll see us publicize those at some point soon.”

Kanojia didn’t offer much more detail. But asked if the deals he had struck were with “household name cable networks,” he answered: “Generally speaking, yes.”

So what does that mean? There’s no way Kanojia is working with any network affiliated with any of the four major broadcasters. They are suing his company for copyright violation, because it distributes their over-the-air programming without paying for it. So that rules out anything from News Corp. (which also owns this Web site), Disney, Comcast or CBS.

I would also be surprised if he has struck deals with any of the established cable programming giants who aren’t in the broadcast TV business, like Viacom or Discovery. Because it seems unlikely that Aereo would want to resell the all-or-nothing bundles the cable guys insist on.

More likely would be deals with programmers that don’t have full cable distribution in the U.S. I could imagine a theoretical deal with someone like Bloomberg TV, for instance, or Al Jazeera English. Asked to provide additional clarification, Aereo PR head Virginia Lam writes: “We have had conversations with a variety of content providers, including some cable networks.”

Kanojia also said his company would soon start streaming programming to PCs and laptops. Right now, users can only watch Aereo on Apple’s iPhones and iPads, and on their TV sets via Roku boxes and Apple TV. The company is also limited to the New York City area, but has already said it plans to expand to other cities.

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google