Aereo Founder Explains Delayed Expansion Plans

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Streaming TV startup Aereo has had a big week. The company agreed to take an arduous legal battle with major network broadcasters to the Supreme Court.

To discuss the move and the growth of the company, we sat down with Chet Kanojia, CEO and founder.

Regarding the decision to move ahead with the Supreme Court, Kanojia expressed that Aereo is fully confident it operates within the law. So far, the company has won out twice as broadcasters pushed for preliminary injunctions, accomplishments that only further validate the company’s position.

A win in the federal courts would put the legality of Aereo to rest, and simultaneously destroy the obstacle posed by Aereo clone FilmOn. FilmOn is currently operating in California and Washington DC, two of the toughest markets for copyright disputes, and has lost lawsuits in both of them. Because FilmOn has claimed to operate in a similar manner to Aereo, Aereo risks being taken down with the ship in those markets.

That said, the decision to push for a federal decision (especially after a few major wins) makes perfect sense.

But Kanojia did admit that the lawsuits were expensive and distracting.

Still, that’s not the reason he gave for slower expansion than promised. At the beginning of the year, Aereo pledged to hit 18 new markets by the end of 2013. A little later, the company extended that promise to 22 markets, but has only gone live in 10 markets over the year.

Kanojia says that Aereo should launch in a few more before the end of January 2014, but that setting high goals is one of the benefits of being a private company.

Instead, it was technical difficulties moving Aereo technology (which has always been used indoors) to rooftops in new markets, as well as the steps to get outdoor-friendly technology regulatory approval.