Watching OTA over the internet could be Simple

Simple.TV deviceYet another service that offers over-the-air channels streamed to internet devices is about to hit the market. This one looks legal, because it uses your home antenna.

Simple.TV is a great story. It showed off a prototype at the International CES in January, won a Best of CES award from CNET, then rode a successful Kickstarter project to create a finished product for consumers. You plug in your home OTA antenna and an ethernet connection, then it streams the shows to you wherever you are. Add a USB hard drive and it’ll even act as a DVR for you. All for the cost of the $150 device, although you might want to spring for the $4.99/month enhanced TV listing subscription.

Streaming this way isn’t completely new. You can hook up a Slingbox or a TiVo and get the same results with the right equipment. What’s new is that Simple.TV has brought that functionality down to a lower price point with a, dare I type this, simpler interface.

What fascinates me is that programmers don’t seem to care much about this kind of streaming, but they’re still battling hard against Aereo, which is only different in that it maintains the OTA antenna for you. Cablevision was the most recent company to dogpile on Aereo, submitting a brief that says Cablevision’s cloud-based DVR is nothing like Aereo’s because Cablevision paid retransmission fees. Yes, this is the same Cablevision that publicly suggested less than two years ago that any non-profit could freely retransmit any OTA channel. So you might want to take all that with a grain of salt.

Anyway, Simple.TV is supposed to begin shipping units this week. I hope it encourages more people to explore the wealth of programming they’re already getting for free.