The key weapon in TV broadcasters' fight with Internet video upstart Aereo is something inelegantly known as a dongle.
miniature TV antenna picks up free, mobile broadcast signals. It
attaches to iPhone and iPad power ports and extends about 7 inches (180
millimeters), allowing users to view live local TV channels at
The device scans the airwaves
for signals with the help of an app. The antenna doesn't sap a user's
data plan or rely on Wi-Fi signals, but it does need to be recharged.
you're at a ball game or a Starbucks and everyone's trying to access
the news, you're not going to get (video stoppages)," says Karen McCall,
a marketing representative with Dyle Mobile TV, the venture backing the
The dongles are on display at the annual gathering of
broadcasters, the NAB Show, taking place this week at the Las Vegas
Convention Center. Dyle says it plans to release units for Android
Dyle is actually a coalition of 12 major
broadcasters including Fox and NBC. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC and are waging
a legal fight against Aereo, a service that pulls down broadcast
station signals with thousands of tiny antennas and sends the signal to
mobile devices or computers over the Internet. Users don't require a
dongle, just a wireless Internet or mobile phone connection.
contend that Aereo illegally steals signals from the air without paying
for the rights before reselling them to customers. Aereo has prevailed
so far. It won a preliminary ruling in an appeals court last week that
allowed it to continue offering its service in the New York City area.
Dyle began selling its dongles, made by companies such as Elgato and Escort, late last year on Amazon.com.
Elgato's EyeTV Mobile sells for $83.98 or more, while Escort's Mobile Digital TV lists for $119.99.
to the $8-per-month streaming service by Aereo, the price seems high,
but the dongles have the backing of major broadcasters.
and Escort devices were designed before Apple reduced the size of the
power ports on its newer iPhones and iPads. As a result, people who use
the latest iPad and iPhone 5 will need to employ an adapter, which can
make the contraption extend somewhat precariously.