7. Aereo

Cloud-based antenna for the masses

Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo
AP
Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo

Founder: Chet Kanojia (CEO)
Date launched:
2011
Funding:
$97 million
Industries disrupted: Media, Telecom
Disrupting: Comcast, Newscorp, Walt Disney
Competitors: DyleMobile TV, Elegato, Sling Media

There was a time not long ago when watching TV at home was free. An antenna on the roof or those awkward rabbit ears on top of the set brought in your favorite shows. Aereo is attempting to bring that fading model back.

The New York City-based company has developed proprietary cloud-based antenna and DVR technology that allows consumers to watch live or recorded HD broadcast television on virtually any type of Internet-connected device, including smart TVs, smartphones, tablets and computers. Founder Chet Kanojia's idea is to use the Internet and inexpensive cloud-computing storage to make this possible.

Read MoreFULL LIST: 2014 CNBC DISRUPTOR 50

By putting the antenna in the cloud and then giving consumers the kind of recording and storage capabilities they've gotten used to when watching their favorite show, Aereo can offer its services for around $8 to $12 a month, a fraction of the cost of a typical monthly cable subscription. The service is currently available in about 11 cities, including New York, Miami, Boston, Atlanta and Houston, with more on the way.

The company's future is less than clear, however. In late April the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case brought by the major broadcast companies, including ABC, CBS, NBCUniversal (CNBC's parent company) and FOX against Aereo. They claim that what the company does is nothing less than steal free, over-the-air TV programming and then transmit that content to its customers over the Internet. Major Aereo investors, including IAC's Barry Diller, will no doubt be waiting anxiously for the court's ruling, which is expected to be handed down in early summer.

On the company's name:

"Aereo = aerial (commonly used word for antenna) + video." -Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO

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