Bamboom Labs wants to help people cut their cable cords by putting local TV broadcasts online with all the digital trimmings -- that is, the ability to watch live or recorded shows in high definition on any device with a browser, anywhere a broadband connection is available. It's technologically ingenious, but I can't decide whether it's a service the market has been waiting for or a lawsuit waiting to happen. Or maybe it's a solution to a problem not many people are eager to solve.
The New York-based startup is the brainchild of Chaitanya "Chet" Kanojia, former chief executive of Navic Networks, whose technology in set-top boxes enabled cable and broadcast networks to measure audience demographics and match advertisements to them in real time. His time at Navic taught him that at any given moment, about half of pay TV viewers were tuned in to local broadcast channels. That observation led him to believe that if he could get live broadcast signals to people reliably, with the ability to time-shift shows and watch them on any device, and with the social features of the Internet, they'd be more willing to abandon cable and satellite TV.
Other companies have taken on parts of this challenge. For example, Sling Media makes set-top boxes that let people tune in remotely to the TV service they have at home. And Monsoon Multimedia makes set-tops that combine remote viewing with TiVo-like digital video recording. But those devices build off of the programming that pay TV delivers to homes. Kanojia wanted to let people watch local broadcasts through the Net without the help of pay TV.
Here's where things get complicated.