Aereo gets another $34M, promises 15 markets by March

Aereo, the startup service that is putting the TV industry’s nose out of joint with its $8/month streaming package, announced on Tuesday that it has received a major new funding round to pursue further expansion.

In a press release, Aereo stated that it intends to use the new $34 million investment to pursue “rapid nationwide expansion and increased investments in hiring and technology.” The money comes by way of Barry Diller’s IAC, Gordon Crawford and Himalaya Capital Management; the Series C round adds to the more than $58 million the Brooklyn-based startup has already received.

The company also pledged that it would expand from 10 to 15 markets by the end of the quarter. It already expanded significantly in 2013, but fell short of the 22 cities it said it would reach by the end of the year.

The company is currently locked in a high stakes legal battle with all of the major broadcasters who claim, with support from the NFL and Major League Baseball, that the service should be shut down for copyright infringement. Aereo counters that its system of tiny antennas — which mean that there is a single transmission for each subscriber — is perfectly legal in light of a recent appeals court case that gave the green light for remote DVR’s.

Aereo won a major appeals court victory last April in New York, where the service has been live for more than a year, and has also won in Boston. The case is now before the Supreme Court where Aereo is urging the court to hear the broadcasters’ appeal.

It’s far from certain, however, that the Supreme Court will hear the case this term, especially as a key related matter is still pending before a California appeals court. That case relates to a would-be Aereo rival, run by an eccentric billionaire, that was promptly shut down in late 2012.

The California ruling effectively made Aereo-style streaming services a no-go in the nine western states that make up the federal courts’ 9th Circuit. To see the state of the litigation — and who will and won’t have Aereo in the near future — check out this great infographic at Project Disco.