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Is Aereo is Pretty Much Dead?


In November, I wrote about Aereo, a service that had come to Denver that allowed viewers the opportunity to view network TV shows on an antenna, and then record said broadcasts to a cloud-based DVR. The service was met with some opposition, forcing them to shut down service. 

Broadcasters cried foul. They claimed that Aereo was acting as an "illegal cable TV service." Broadcasters weren't able to capture retransmission fees they charge cable companies. According to The Daily Dot, financial research firm SNL Kagan found that retransmission fees from cable and satellite providers netted broadcasters $3.3 billion. Losing retransmission fees led to New Corp president Chase Carey telling media executives that Fox was considering going "cable only" if the Aereo decision did favor broadcasters. 

The Supreme Court sided 6-3 with broadcasters. The decision essentially stated that Aereo was violating the copyrights of broadcasters. Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion said "Aereo functions more 'like a library card' that 'can be used to obtain whatever broadcasts are freely available.'"

Aereo expressed their displeasure in the Supreme Court decision on their blog. CEO Chet Kanojia said "when new technology enables consumers to use a smarter, easier to use antenna, consumers and the marketplace win. Free-to-air broadcast television should not be available only to those who can afford to pay for the cable or satellite bundle."

My Take 

Cable television started in the 1940s as Community Antenna TV. The service provided television signals to people whose reception was poor when mountains and buildings blocked TV signals. 

Aereo did not provide anything other than over-the-air TV broadcasts through "antenna farms," and allowed users the ability to time shift TV broadcasts through a cloud based DVR. I see Aereo's business plan as a more modern version of Community Antenna TV with a DVR service added in. 

We'll see where this goes, but I think the Supreme Court's decision may be a nail in Aereo's coffin. 

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