TV Scores a Huge Win over Aereo
Yesterday’s announcement that the United States Supreme Court sided with TV Broadcasters in their lawsuit against Aereo was a huge win for broadcasters.
Had it gone the other way, an Aereo win would have threatened their current broadcast business model.
In case you haven’t been following the details, here is a very brief summary:
Aereo is a start-up internet company that provides dime size antennas that allows subscribers to stream broadcast TV in 11 cities over the internet to their computers or phones. Broadcasters stated that Aereo was stealing their content and not paying re-transmission fees like cable companies are required (Copyright Act 1976). In the end, the justices, in a 6-3 vote,agreed that Aereo was violating the network copyright protection. The court agreed Aereo was operating like a cable company.
What was in jeopardy? Several broadcasters were threatening to take their programming to cable and let their antennas go dark. Another option could have been to go to a subscription based model ending the many years of “free TV”. The local 200+ affiliates across the country would have been hurt as well since they depend on networks for much of their programming, thus hurting their local ad sales revenue.
While it is unclear what will happen with Aereo, we do know that TV can get back to the struggles that still remain – dwindling audience sizes and cord cutting caused by increased popularity of Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu and the like. A recent survey from Adroit Digital (June 2014) showed that if an online provider could satisfy their broadcast TV viewing, 63% of respondents would be willing to cancel their cable subscriptions.
Despite what happened yesterday, one thing is certain – change is constant.