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Will Aereo's Subscription Antenna TV Service Change Television?

by April 11, 2013
Aereo streaming television

Aereo streaming television

The battle for television is on...in fact, it HAS been on for years now. It's been in motion ever since streaming media services like Hulu, Netflix and iTunes started infiltrated their once-protected airspace. Now, a new company, Aereo, threatens the admittedly untenable status quo. Aereo isn't a mispronounced new sandwich cookie, it's a service that, similar to PlayLater, Ivi.tv and FilmOn, justifies its existence through legal technicalities, but which nevertheless faces an uphill battle. But Aereo has some serious backing from IAC and its Chairman and Senior Executive, Barry Diller—and that's good for something. Aereo's service is based on providing an individual antenna for every subscriber, thus creating (in it's definition) a "private transmission" to the user. At that point, Aereo allows for DVR recording and playback services and, of course, access to the live antenna broadcasts available.

And the lawsuits have already begun.

The networks banded together (assisted by the NAB) arguing that Aereo's streaming service is a "retransmission", which would violate copyright laws. Aereo's position is that it is merely allowing consumers access to its array of micro-antennas so they can access shows available over the air. Aereo already won a ruling by a lower court, but the battle is sure to rage on as long as it takes. Things got even better for Aereo when, in New York's 2nd Circuit, 2/3 of the judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court’s decision. As is their custom, when they lose in the courts, the powers that be are expected to use their lobbying efforts to effect change at the congressional level. So far the service is only available in New York, though national expansion is the goal.

Aereo pricing plans

Since the case is more or less new territory for broadcast television and Internet media streaming, this could potentially land in the Supreme Court. 

Blowback from this move is potentially huge. If Aereo fundamentally wins the right to do what it's doing, they may become the poster child for the decline in CableTV subscriptions. Some broadcasters, like FOX are even considering converting to pay channels (which would lift them from their obligation to be on public airwaves). 

One thing is for sure. Marketing will need to be done almost exclusively online and in print, as I don't think any television stations will carry commercials for the service!

About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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