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Will Aereo fill gap for local TV?

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Published:   |   Updated: April 1, 2013 at 07:03 PM
TAMPA -

Sitting here at my desk and looking at my computer screen, I'm either witnessing another example of the cable TV industry unraveling, its painful birth into a new incarnation, or maybe both. I'm watching live, local broadcast television from Manhattan, streaming to my screen in Tampa.

There are angry guests screaming at each other on Maury Povich on one channel and the anchors on the local ABC news are going over the local headlines on another channel, all through a nifty new streaming service called Aereo.

Aereo is the kind of next-generation service that will thrill anyone who has dropped their pay-TV package and fallen in love with Netflix for movies, Hulu for TV shows, ESPN.com for sports and so on. That's because Aereo fills in the gap of local broadcast TV to that lineup of streaming media.

Aereo does this by installing tiny antennas in cities across the nation, collecting broadcast TV signals, and re-streaming them to customers who “rent” the antenna from Aereo. Yes, you could just use a wire antenna, but try connecting that to your tablet. With Aereo, you can watch on your tablet, phone or computer. If your TV can go to a website directly, you can watch Aereo there, too.

There's no equipment to buy, and you can rent the service, with prices from $1 a day to $80 a year. The image quality is stellar, on par with Netflix, and a direct link to HDTVs is coming soon.

You'll still need broadband Internet, but Aereo is yet another way to leave behind the traditional model of pay TV and watch shows more on your terms, just as iTunes dismantled the music industry and Netflix upended the movie industry.

There are many lawsuits flying around Aereo, and the service is live only in New York. But it has media mogul Barry Diller as an investor and plans to launch in dozens of cities soon, including Tampa in a month or two.

Other retail, restaurant and trend news around town:

Speaking of streaming, cable companies are pushing into the Web-based TV world, too, and suddenly there are a bazillion ways to watch March Madness on your tablet, computer or game console/TV. Bright House set up a free, special channel in its streaming service for subscribers that collects all its games in one place so you don't need to remember if a game is on Channel 42 or 420. Verizon has a similar streaming service so you can lounge on the deck with your tablet if you're kicked out of the living room. (Or at work.) And finally, the NCAA has its own streaming site at MarchMadness.com to show games. Sorting out the channels among them can give you a headache, and streaming means having to watch the commercials, but it's worth checking out. This is the future of sports television, i.e., not even on television.

Cupcakes may have had their day in the sun as a hot trend. But doughnuts are back, and you'll soon have a South Tampa source of killer, quirky doughnuts.

The Datz restaurant recently bought the former Kalupa's Bakery & Deli next door, renovated the place fantastically, and will open Datz Dough in a couple of weeks at 2602 S. MacDill Ave.

As a diligent reporter, I tested some of the first batches the other day: one with a swoon-inducing espresso chocolate sprinkle and one with a crumbled Heath bar coating. If that's not enough, the shop also will have William Dean chocolates, huge apple fritters and what they call Boozy Milkshakes, or shakes made into an adult beverage. facebook.com/DatzDough.

A couple of changes at International Plaza mall: The Vera Bradley store we wrote about a while ago has opened a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from the Apple Store, and the Sony Store we reported was closing has done so. Barricades are up over the fašade, so look for a new tenant.

Take note, fans of the Frankie's hot dog joint and bar downtown. By the time you read this (and we would have told you sooner, had we known) Frankie's will have closed its doors. I'll give you a moment to mourn.

The good news: Owners will stay the same, and they will be renovating the spot at 909 W. Kennedy Blvd. into a new restaurant and bar called The Outpost Tap House + Tavern.

Much of the menu will be similar to Frankie's, and they will keep items such as cheese steaks and wings, but there will be a lot more healthy options, table-side service, 30-plus new beers on tap and at least 100 others available.

Owner Mike Diogostine said he's breaking away from the Frankie's group of seven restaurants and wants to do his own thing.

Renovations could take five weeks, and patio expansion is in the works as well as more parking in lots nearby.

Come mid-April, the Square 1 Burgers & Bar's sixth location should open on Tyrone Boulevard in St. Petersburg.

For the uninitiated, Square 1 is one of many great “better burger” restaurants serving new varieties like the Oliva Burger with “a ground pork patty flavored with apple, garlic and onions served with a pineapple slice glazed with teriyaki, goat cheese, tomato and lettuce on a brioche bun.” Square1Burgers.com.

Tampa's own PDQ chicken is taking over the world, or at least growing significantly. From one site on South Dale Mabry Highway across from Plant High School, it has grown to seven locations, with 14 more on the books to open across Florida and in several states to be named. World, take notes.

Some of PDQ's founders started another little project a long time ago that turned into Outback Steakhouse. Eatpdq.com.


rmullins@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7919

Twitter: @DailyDeadline

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