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Aereo's CEO dishes on expansion plans and legal controversy

Source: Aereo

Aereo's streaming live TV over the Web service is so controversial and potentially disruptive to the TV business, that the CEO's Q&A at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia conference drew a standing room only audience.

Aereo charges less than $10 a month for live and recorded TV to connected TVs and mobile devices, drawing a slew of lawsuits from content creators who want to be paid for their content.

Tuesday Aereo announced it's adding four more cities to its rollout plan this year—Columbus, Ohio, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and San Antonio—for a total of 27 markets and reach to 105 million people by year-end.

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So how many subscribers does Aereo have? The company won't say—though its CEO, Chet Kanojia, noted that the accelerated rollout indicates success so far.

Kanojia says that his service isn't necessarily sparking cord-cutting—saying that he believes the majority of his users are either "cord-nevers"—people who have never payed for cable television, or people who still pay for a cable or satellite TV bundle, but don't want to pay extra for access on say another television set.

"People are making choices based on their own consumption habits. I think it would be foolish to say that people's media habits are not changing," Kanojia said.

"Aereo, very simply, all we're doing is in full recognition that people's media habits are changing. They want five or six channels of live television. They want a lot of library content because it doesn't have commercials, they can watch wherever they want. Put yourself in the middle of that stream. ... We don't have a large business to project or change so we have very different motivations, for us we are very happy to go wherever the consumer trend is going," he said.

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As for the legal challenges, Kanojia cites a number of recent victories and says he's not concerned.

"Our position is pretty strong. Nobody can predict the future. I think the best we can do, is we have our data and we have our consumers behavior, and we think the chances are the idea that a consumer can have their own antenna will be protected in this country irrespective of what regime you're looking at."

—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.