Videophiles and cord cutters who have been following the Aereo Supreme Court case know by now that the service is effectively dead, with the Court ruling 6-3 in favor of broadcasters that accused Aereo of violating copyright law. Aereo allowed viewers to watch live, antenna-based TV streamed over the Internet to computers and mobile devices. Although Aereo is on its way out, its functionality lives on in a number of other products and services. If you want to watch live network TV without shelling out for a cable subscription, you still have four options.
1. HDTV Antennas
People who grew up in the '90s or before may remember TV antennas. Gone are the finicky rabbit ears of old, replaced with sleek HD antennas that resemble routers or mouse pads. If you tend to do most of your TV-watching on an actual TV, an HD antenna is the easiest Aereo alternative.
Setting up an HD antenna is simple. It usually involves attaching a coaxial cable (and sometimes a signal amplifier) to your TV and setting up an antenna somewhere near a window, or even outside your home. (Bear in mind that many apartment buildings do not allow this.)
Good HD antennas tend to hover around $50. Keep in mind, though, that which channels you can access, how many channels you receive and the quality of each channel will depend on your geographic location and proximity to a broadcasting station. Users in urban areas with clear lines of sight to broadcast towers may pick up lots of crystal-clear channels, while users in rural areas or blocked by buildings may not have as much luck. The Consumer Electronics Association (which brings you CES) has a site called AntennaWeb that let's you see the location of broadcast towers in your area.
2. Broadcast boxes: Slingbox, Simple.TV and others
One of Aereo's selling points was the ability to watch network TV on computers or mobile devices. If this is the way you want to watch, an HD antenna by itself isn't enough. You'll need an over-the-air DVR. These devices plug into your TV and receive HD antenna signals (you'll usually need to buy a separate HD antenna), but can also broadcast them to other devices over your local network or the Internet. The more expensive models are often DVR boxes, allowing you to record content and watch it at your convenience.
Simple models like the Slingbox, the Vulkano Flow and HD HomeRun range between $100 and $200, and simply act as an intermediary between your antenna and your TV. This way, you can watch content on your television, or on your mobile device.
The more comprehensive over-the-air DVR boxes, like Simple.TV, Channel Master DVR+ and Nuvyyo, also record programs and can broadcast them later. The boxes vary in how they work, but each one has its share of pros and cons. Some require separate boxes to broadcast content to mobile devices; others are fully functional Android set-top boxes, allowing you to run programs like Netflix. These boxes often exceed $200, or approximately two years of Aereo service.
3. Live TV online services
Depending on what you like to watch, you may be able to get all of your desired content on computers, mobile devices or streaming boxes directly from the Internet. News channels, for example, often stream live content for free. You can watch Sky News on a Roku, ABC News on a Chromecast or just about any local news channel on a computer or mobile device.
Even sports coverage, one of the biggest reasons why people watch live TV, is usually available through other means. For example, the World Cup is being streamed in both English and Spanish absolutely free on ITV, the BBC and Univision Deportes. Sports fans can also pay subscription fees to services like MLB.TV, NBA Game Time and NHL GameCenter to watch the latest matches online. Keep in mind, however, that these services often block local games so that they don't compete with local broadcasters.
Streaming foreign language programming in the U.S. is, ironically, often much easier than streaming local content. If you want soap operas, talk shows and other daytime TV to pass the time, try sites like World Wide Internet TV, Live TV Café and DishWorld. Polyglots can find lots of interesting stuff to watch, but English-speakers can still amuse themselves with streams from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Last, but not least, there's FilmOn, the service once named Aereokiller. This service is very similar to Aereo in that it offers local over-the-air channels, but does not charge for standard-definition content. Additionally, FilmOn can provide users with network TV from other areas (like watching San Francisco stations even if you live in New York) as well as a plethora of international content.
In theory, the same ruling that killed Aereo should kill FilmOn as well, but the company's pugnacious CEO Alki David sent out a defiant email to the press shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, vowing to carry on. Expect David to keep FilmOn up and running for as long as possible and use whatever legal means are at his disposal to prevent the Supreme Court decision from affecting it.
FilmOn could be around for years, or it could get deactivated tomorrow. In the meantime, it's an excellent alternative to Aereo and doesn't cost a thing, provided you can live with SD quality and a few extra advertisements.