Aereo Tapped Out In NYC

Aereo is facing a good news/bad news scenario in New York. Its broadband TV/cloud DVR combo is apparently popular enough that it has already outstripped the capacity of its Brooklyn-area facility, which contains the servers and antenna arrays that run the service in the market.

Karl Bode of DSL Reports, a self-professed cord-cutter, reported Friday (January 31) that he decided to give Aereo a shot ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl and perhaps to catch some of NBC’s upcoming  coverage of the Sochi Games. 

He'll have to wait or find another outlet. When Bode tried to sign up online, he was greeted with the message: “Thanks for your interest in Aereo! We are currently sold out in New York.”

Aereo has not disclosed how many customers it has in all markets, let alone New York City. Last October, The Wall Street Journalestimated that Aereo had between 90,000 to 135,000 subscribers in New York City, reaching that figure based on its account of active equipment at Aereo’s Brooklyn facility. The story also suggested that a surge in subscribers would also cause Aereo’s power bill to spike.

Aereo said power-related issues had nothing to do with its decision to close up sign ups temporarily in New York, claiming it’s merely a function of strong subscriber growth and the need to beef up capacity to keep pace with it.

"We’re fortunate that Aereo continues to experience strong growth across all our markets,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “Our team has been working overtime to add more capacity in our existing markets. As soon as additional capacity is added, new consumers will be notified that they can sign up and create an Aereo account.” 

But the situation in NYC shines the spotlight on a significant operational challenge the company faces as it expands into new markets – staying a step or two ahead of its capacity needs.

Following its most recent debut on January 21 in Cincinnati, Aereo has also launched service in Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Denver and Baltimore. Its pending launch in Chicago has been delayed. Other cities previously marked for future expansions include Minneapolis; Madison, Wis.; Cleveland; Providence, R.I.; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pa.; Kansas City; Washington, D.C.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and Birmingham, Ala.