Aereo announced Tuesday that it will expand on May 15 to Boston, its first coverage area outside of New York City.
The expansion to Boston, where the company believes it can reach up to 4.5 million consumers, comes as it is locked in litigation with networks that say its use of their signals is stealing. Aereo, a private company, has not disclosed how many subscribers it has.
The company is a streaming service that captures live TV signals using antennae small enough to fit on a fingertip. It says it puts "tons" of antennae in data centers, and then relays the signals over the Internet to laptops, phones and tablets.
It relays ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, the CW, Univision and PBS, among other networks available by antenna, but does not relay cable channels.
Beginning May 15, consumers who have pre-registered with Aereo will receive a special invitation to join. After May 30, membership will be available to others in the Boston market, which includes parts of New Hampshire and Vermont.
The company has announced plans to move to 22 other markets, including Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.
Aereo poses a threat to networks in part because unlike a TV outfitted with an antenna and nothing else, it lets customers fast-forward through ads. That undercuts the traditional ad-sponsored TV model, which is already besieged by DVR viewing and Dish's ad-skipping AutoHop service.
Aereo says all it is doing is harnessing — on a massive scale — the power of the humble antenna, which has always given TV owners access to the public airwaves.