Could the Supreme Court Upend the TV Business?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving TV streaming service Aero, which threatens the business model of traditional TV networks.

Aereo is a streaming television service that picks up digital TV signals the way an old low tech antenna does from the broadcast airways and then streams it to your computer and any device with a WiFi connection.

Aereo bypasses cable boxes and subscription channels to deliver ABC, NBC, FOX, and other broadcast channels that hold the rights to air events like the Oscars, the Super Bowl, as well as their own hit shows.

Now the Supreme Court must decide whether Aereo's service is an innovation—or whether it's simply using the internet to steal the creative content of broadcasters.

Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia says that while his technological innovation has been a good business so far, this case is about freedom.


Chet Kanojia


T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]


Hal, Robert: I see your point, but consider that the switch to digital format doesn't necessarily make this scenario feasible for everyone. I have a digital antenna in the middle of NYC, and only half of my broadcast channels come in. Digital OTA signals are more susceptible to physical barriers. A lot of my city friends simply no longer watch broadcast TV since they have the same OTA problems, don't want to pay for cable TV, and don't feel like seeking TV online unless it's already bundled in a convenient location like Aereo, Hulu, Netflix, etc. Aereo isn't free, but it's very inexpensive and sure beats giving money to Time Warner and subsidizing sports households and home shopping networks on outdated tier models.

Jan. 16 2014 05:16 PM
Hal Drellich from NYC

Aereo sounds like a great idea and a terrific innovation. But it is definitely not the same as watching broadcast TV.
Once you buy your old fashioned TV set, you can watch anonymously and for free. With aereo they want you to sign up and pay them a fee. Aereo is not free, and it's not anonymous.

Jan. 16 2014 04:03 PM
Robert Thomas from Santa Clara

Both of my sisters' households enjoy 15+ local OTA high-def broadcast channels using their purchased (not leased) T*vo appliances and augment this with Netfl*x (and other) subscriptions which ride along through their modest, inexpensive DSL connections. Neither is particularly "tech savvy" and neither has ever had a cable TV connection. I think there are a lot of people who look at television this way.

Jan. 16 2014 03:56 PM

I'm a huge fan of Aereo and their CEO. It's crazy that the networks would want to alienate the desired younger demographic by essentially denying access to its advertisers.

Aereo is simply the new generation of must-carry innovation that was intended to replace the lapse of the FCC's digital must-carry rules among cable operators.

Jan. 16 2014 03:47 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

I use an antenna to pick up broadcast [high-definition] network and local television, FREE. Several years ago my cable company told me that I would have to use a cable box for basic service.

So I did some research and found that the new boxes were bidirectional. I have no idea what signal was being transmitted back to the company so I cut the cable. Now I use an antenna to pickup 20+ stations. I can even record and save several shows simultaneously. I saved $80 a month.

Mr. Kanojia has scary good foresight. He understands the repetitive cycle of American big business and is confident he can maneuver through it. As long as he doesn't save content for later viewing (Hulu) I think he can win this.

Jan. 16 2014 10:12 AM

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