Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Who’s Paying Aereo to Watch Free TV?

dick dawson survey saysIs Aereo legal?

We’ll see.

If Aereo is legal, what does that mean for the TV business?

We’ll see.

Who exactly is Aereo’s target market? Who’s going to pay them $8 a month to watch broadcast TV — but only broadcast TV — on the Web?

Ah. That we can start to answer.

Or, at least, we can see who Aereo thinks is using the service today.

Aereo has yet to talk about how many people are using the service, which is currently only available in the New York City area. But at our D: Dive into Media conference in February, CEO Chet Kanojia sketched out a rough sense of his customers.

Half of them, he said, are either cord-cutters or cord-nevers — people who used to have cable TV or have never signed up for it — and half are people who are still paying for cable.

And now, via a customer survey Aereo is sending out, we can deduce a bit more about Aereo’s sense of itself and its customers. Here’s a screenshot from the survey, which landed in my inbox today:

aereo screenshot


“Professional working parent” is a pretty broad group of people, I suppose. Same for “sports enthusiast” (though I think those people usually call themselves “fans”). But if you’re like me, you take one look at this list and you have a good sense of the ideal Aereo user — an edge case of some sort or another.

Which doesn’t mean Aereo thinks the business will be small — hence the $63 million it has raised so far. But until there’s a box there labeled “Just a normal person who watches TV like everyone else,” it’s hard to argue that this is aimed at a wide swath of America.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik