The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the streaming TV service Aereo violates the copyrights of TV networks, and Aereo has since shut down. Fortunately, there are alternatives for watching live TV on a mobile device that are completely legal.
Sling Media Slingbox
Aereo got in legal trouble because the Supreme Court decided that by taking content from TV broadcasts and sending it to subscribers it was acting like a cable company, and therefore was required to pay the same fees to the TV networks that cable companies do.
Sling Media also offers a device that sends live TV broadcasts to your tablet, but functions in a completely different manner, and is therefore in no danger of being closed down. A Slingbox streams what’s playing on its owner’s TV to their tablet or phone over the Internet. Sling Media has no contact with the TV shows being sent – it’s people sending shows to themselves.
Like Aereo, this is live programming, but unlike that shut-down service, everything in the user’s cable/satellite package is included. This is because the Slingbox sits between the user’s TV and their cable box, satellite receiver, or antenna, enabling anything being sent to the TV to be forwarded to a tablet running the Slingbox app.
Aereo was a subscription service, but a Slingbox is a one-time purchase. The basic model is $179.99 and the required iOS or Android app is $14.99. Windows users can connect to their Slingbox with a web browser or Windows 8 app.
Those who have given up cable entirely will appreciate Tablo, which makes use of the HDTV shows that are broadcast for free over the air from networks like NBC, PBS, Fox, and many more. These programs can be watched live on a wide variety of tablets and phones, or recorded to be viewed later anywhere there’s fairly quick Internet access.
Like SlingPlayer, this option isn’t going to run into copyright problems because it’s just one user recording programs for personal use.
This solution is best for cord cutters, as it doesn’t offer any way to stream shows available on cable.
Read our Nuvyyo Tablo Review to learn more.
Xfinity TV Go or TWC TV App
The main reason Aereo was shut down was it wasn’t paying for the content coming from the TV networks. Both Comcast and Time Warner Cable have worked out agreements with some of these networks so that they can stream their TV channels live.
The iOS and Android Xfinity TV GO and TWC TV apps are free but require a subscription to the applicable cable service. Windows users can access the streams with a web browser.
The highlight of the Aereo service was that it offered access to live TV on a tablet or phone. There are many options for those who don’t mind waiting a bit to watch their favorite programs however.
A majority of networks offer Android and iOS apps that give users access to recent episodes of TV shows. Broadcast networks give free access to this content, but cable networks require viewers to be subscribers of a cable service.
Hulu Plus is an online subscription service offers recent episodes of TV shows from a variety of broadcast networks, as well as older content. Netflix is a rival subscription service that offers a range of older movies and TV shows. Both have iOS and Android apps.
The apps and websites of large cable companies make available to their subscribers also offer access to recent episodes from many networks, as well as movies from networks like HBO and Showtime.