Cutting the cable TV cord just got a little easier for consumers.
A federal appeals court rejected Monday an appeal by TV station owners of a previous ruling that allowed startup Aereo to stream local TV networks through its website and app.
The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York City, affirms an earlier ruling that Aereo doesn't violate the broadcasters' copyrights in airing programs over the Internet from its farm of mini-antennas in Brooklyn.
Aereo, which is largely backed by Barry Diller's IAC Interactive, charges a subscription fee, ranging from $1 a day to $80 a year. Each subscribers leases an individual antenna, a point that Aereo emphasizes in differentiating its service from other streaming companies.
Two groups of plaintiffs — network station owners — sued Aereo last year in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, asking for an injunction barring the company from transmitting programs because it lacks the proper license.
The district court denied the motion, concluding that Aereo customers are streaming content through their own antenna.
Today's decision "again validates that Aereo's technology falls squarely within the law and that's a great thing for consumers who want more choice and flexibility in how, when and where they can watch television," said Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia, in a statement.
It "sends a powerful message that consumer access to free-to-air broadcast television is still meaningful in this country."
In February, Aereo expanded its service from the five boroughs in New York City to 29 counties across nearby states, including New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Aereo has also announced that it will introduce its service to 22 markets this year, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C.