(USA TODAY) -- As more Americans change their viewing habits, a New York-basedstart-up is betting that many consumers will be willing to ditch theirtelevisions while still paying for some of their favorite broadcastnetworks.
For $8 a month, Aereo customers can stream or recordchannels -- like CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC -- on their mobile devices. Theservice targets people who don't need the hundreds of channels bundledin paid subscriptions or who live in areas where there is not a strongbroadcast signal for local channels. Aereo has rolled out in a handfulof cities: New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Houston, Dallasand Salt Lake City. It will be available to residents in parts ofColorado, Wyoming and Nebraska starting Monday.
Aereo's launchcomes as more Americans opt out of watching TV in a traditional way. TVratings firm Nielsen found the number of homes in the United Stateswithout a paid TV subscription grew from 2 million homes in 2007 to 5million this year.
"Aereo is part of a much larger story when itcomes to changing consumer habits, and a lot of that is being driven byaccess to bandwidth and the proliferation of mobile devices," saidVirginia Lam, an Aereo spokesperson.
About 56% of adults own a smartphone -- up from 35% just two years ago, according to a Pew Research Centerstudy. The growth in tablet adoption has been even more dramatic -- 8%of adults owned a tablet in 2011 and this year one-third of Americansown one, according to Pew.
With more options than ever, the onus will be on consumers to find the the right mix.
"Ifyou're able to get the over-the-air networks, you might opt to get asubscription service through a Netflix or HuluPlus. It's really findingthe balance of how much content you want to consume and can you pay forthat content," said Dounia Turrill, senior vice president of clientinsights for Nielsen.
Broadband-only homes still only representabout 1% of Nielsen's survey sample. Turrill said people aren't watchingless live TV, but consuming more video from other sources as well, suchas on their smartphones and tablets.
So far, Lam said about halfof Aereo customers still keep a cable or satellite subscription, but theother half do not. It's unclear if those who don't have subscriptionscancelled theirs or never had one to begin with. Overall, customers tendto be under the age of 45, she said.
Aereo has a goal to expand to a total of 22 U.S. citiesby the end of the year, but not everyone is embracing their new model.Broadcasters have challenged the legality of Aereo's service, claimingcopyright infringement. So far, the courts have sided with Aereo.
Thecompany has not released the number of people who have subscribed tothe service so far. But Lam said the offerings are a reflection of agreater desire of people to get the content they want, where and whenthey want it.
"Customers are ready for more choice and competition and alternatives, and they're tired of the old model," Lam said.
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