By putting over-the-air online legally, Aereo clears the way for all TV everywhere

“I think there is a good case to be made that Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed startup that lets people watch live broadcast TV channels (over-the-air or OTA) on internet-connected devices, is about to push Television Everywhere definitively towards ALL Television Everywhere (ATVE!)” Anthony Wing Kosner writes for Forbes. “To understand the potential magnitude of Aereo’s disruption, consider first, the twisted brilliance of what it is doing.”

“Here’s how it works. Consumers have the right to receive a broadcast TV signal on any device they choose (originally just a TV) and by extension, record programs for their own personal use. That is the intent and the purpose of the law. Broadcasters get to use the airwave spectrum (and make money off of advertising) in return for allowing people free access to these broadcasts — for their own personal use,” Kosner writes. “Individuals or unlicensed companies are not, however, allowed to re-broadcast OTA TV content, which has prevented live TV from being streamed online in any reliable and legal manner. Aereo has gotten around this problem by setting up antennae farms where its customers can license their ‘own’ individual antenna that is used to receive a signal through which they can receive OTA broadcasts (and record them on a cloud DVR) to watch on web-connected devices.”

Kosner writes, “Aereo is renting the antenna and the infrastructure to its customers just as cable companies rent to theirs. The consistency of this approach has so far held up in court… Broadcasters and other multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) have a short window to protect their turf before is gets disrupted from beneath them. None of this is a foregone conclusion, but we are certainly in for a period of rapid innovation.”

Read more in the full article here.

37 Comments

  1. The internet is the now TV and every other form of media connection. Entrenched broadcasters should give up on fighting this. They are gently being pushed in the right direction by this verdict and should just embrace it. It allows them to chance and save face with cable distributors at the same time. This is a win for every one.

    1. We could only hope that Faux and NewsCrap shut down all their operations- OTA, Cable, Satellite, Print and Internet. The world would be better place without the lowbrow LCD BS Rupert Murdoch and his minions pollute the world with.

      1. opinions are like ass holes, we all have them and they all are occasionally filled with shit; revel in the fact and try to maintain
        some perspective. perhaps what you label as lowbrow, others
        consider as the only viable source for uncensored information in these times. now i could continue to the point where i start
        name calling, but i have chosen to not so do
        happy trails

        1. It is not casual opinion- it is informed opinion. A non-partisan and apolitical organization polled Americans about current events, issues and other information critical to know for anyone interested in political affairs. Fox News Channel viewers scored lower than any other group- even people who do not regularly read, watch or listen to news from any source. Among those who watch or listen to news NPR listeners and PBS NewsHour viewers scored the highest.

          BTW- Those who are regular watchers of The Daily Show and Colbert Report scored highest overall.

          Fox News Channel is a brand- not a statement of fact. It is political talk masquerading as news. The audience is white, old, rural, lower income and poorly educated- not exactly a happening demographic.

          1. And you are as silly as those you pretend to be better than.
            You will take one survey, blow it out of proportion and spew that for years.

            And for your info, other than white, you got your entire list wrong of every person I know that watches Fox at least a few hours a week, as I do.

            And what the Hell makes you think that is the only news source those people use? How intriguing it is that you crap all over a supposed demographic as being ‘led’ while you do just as you claim they do, take a ‘proven’ fact and run all over acting like you know something. Wow, you are so happening.

            What is your opinion of that reporter being held in Colorado for not divulging her source? I’m sure you are up to snuff on that story, Miss Informed……

      2. For being so smart you kind of misunderstood the question. Fox News is already a cable station. The original comment referred to Fox’s entertainment broadcast channel. The one that carries shows such as American Idol, Bones, Glee, and The Simpsons. Still, I guess one of your ilk doesn’t like to miss an opportunity to spew negativity, even if it is off-topic.

        1. Faux Newz is part of the Evil NewsCrap Empire. My expression is that they should all shut down.

          Faux the TV Network is also a blight upon TV.

          No Murdochvision- OTA or cable- would be a great thing.

  2. Something really needs to change, and the sooner the better. Cable tv providers like Comcast are mercilessly ripping off their customers for every penny they can squeeze out of them.

    1. How? By passing on the retransmission fees that local broadcasters1 now demand? By NOT being allowed to bring in a distant ‘free’ channel from out of the ‘area of domain’ to replace it? By being required by local franchise agreements to carry OTA broadcast on their Basic package where most can’t even deselect them?

      I know I have failed at trying to explain this to people for years, but cable systems are making so little off of video now that it will soon be a loss leader kept merely to offset the satellites.

      Also, Aero will eventually be struck down as retransmission and then a per sub fee will apply.
      Believe me….

      1. By not allowing me to choose *only* the channels I wish to pay for and watch. There are, perhaps, 10 channels that I would be willing to pay for. I have no desire and no use for the majority of channels available via cable or satellite TV. Yet I have no option but to pay for them if I subscribe to cable or satellite. Because of this, I have withdrawn from the market and do not subscribe to pay TV. What little TV time I spend, I generally watch OTA PBS stations. For movies, I just pop in a disc or stream via Netflix, both of which are far less expensive than cable or satellite movie channels.

        1. Yeah, I don’t blame you. I’m about to cut Comcast off, too.
          But remember, THEY don’t have as much control over the channels you are required to have on certain packages as do the owners of studios and cable broadcasters, along with some local franchise agreements.

          Still, even if you were allowed to pick your favorite channels, you wouldn’t save that much if any, since they are ‘subsidized’ by giving more ad revenue overall because of the ‘potential’ market they serve when grouped with all of the channels a particular broadcaster sells (like ESPN or FOX).

          Also, if you DO like a particular channel that MOST people don’t (hello, Golf Channel) then it will cost you more to have that channel a la carte.
          Isn’t socialism of TV great….?

      2. Besides which, Comcast is doing fairly well from a profit perspective- their net income for 2012 was somewhere over $6 billion dollars. Not nearly as much profit as Apple, but they’re not exactly in the poorhouse, either. And just over 1/2 of their revenue is from their cable TV operations, with the rest from cable internet, cable phone, and NBCUniversal for the most part.

        And Aereo is looking promising. You know the broadcasters are scared when Fox threatens to go subscription only. The courts have all ruled in Aero’s favor so far, and there doesn’t appear to be any reason for the Supreme to overturn anything so far. Of course, the broadcasters are likely to lobby Congress to make changes to the law, but at least under current law, Aereo looks to be on solid ground.
        Honestly, there’s little difference between the service that Aereo offers and what a company like Roku provides. Last time I checked, Roku is not liable for any retransmission fees…

    2. Vote with your wallet, I did. At the start of the year I set up a Mac mini with an antenna and networked HDTV tuners and cancelled DirecTV. I’ve been supplementing broadcast TV with Amazon Prime, iTunes and even “full episodes online” on sites such as syfy.com, tbs.com and tvland.com. I’ve saved about $300 in the first 3 months of the year.

      I’ve blogged about it here:
      http://atariage.com/forums/blog/blog-148/cat-150-dvr-project

    1. Uh….OK, how do you explain something over and over?
      It IS retransmission, so it WILL be judged that eventually.

      Either that or cable systems will have to be allowed to do the same thing, and local broadcasters will then lose a mint in retrans fees, which will hurt their content. Make sense?

      Think Napster……

      1. Nope. Aereo is only renting you with an awesome antennae to grab the OTA signals that already fall on your house. Every user has ther own antenna and their own DVR copies which they control, just as if they were using a TIVO connected to a 500 ft antenna on their house.
        The local broadcasters should beg, borrow or steal the tech and offer the same service to local customers for a couple bucks per month. A direct feed from their mountaintop transmitters. Then they could even force you to watch the commercials during time – delayed viewing. And the customer data they could gather would be a GOLDMINE compared to the data they can get from their OTA transmissions.

        1. What do you think cable does? A few metro areas may get a fiber or microwave feed, but the majority simply get it off an antenna and send it to people that could also have an antenna.

          1. Yes, but:
            1. Cable companies are forcing you to buy a bunch of other crap–the OTA signals landing on my house shouldn’t require any package deals.
            2. The Aereo antenna tech made their mammoth antennas obsolete.
            3. The internet made their cable model obsolete.

            Yes, it will destroy their current business model. That’s what technology often does to backward-thinking monopolies.

            1. OK, your first point shows you still don’t understand why cable works like it does. I’ve explained it in other post. That still doesn’t change the fact that Aero is simply retransmitting a signal. Good luck.

  3. This is just a first step. Aereo’s action are deemed legal because each household “has” an antenna which allows it to record content. At some point, hopefully, someone (a judge) will rule that the redundancy of one antenna per household makes no functional difference. And, poof, Aereo, or someone doing the same thing, will be able to service everyone.

    This assumes that the government will work, as they always do, in a common sense manner. :-7

      1. Good point. It seems that, in the current model, Aereo would need to have a cable subscription for each household. Maybe even with a cable box for each one.

        I dunno. The whole thing, laws and Aereo’s implementation of what seems to be a loophole, is filled with contradiction. At least from my limited examination of it.

        For instance, if I record a show and later watch it on my TV via a wifi connection to my recording device, it’s technically retransmission. However, it’s all my equipment and for my personal use, so it’s legal.

        But, if I store the recording on a remote server, owned by a third party, and watch it later on my iPad, is that OK? It seems to be.

        So then, if I place an antenna and a DVR-like box on the building next door, and have selected programs recorded and stored on my iCloud account and watch it later, is that OK? I don’t know. But, it’s only one small step for my antenna and one giant leap for Aereo.

        The bottom line, in my mind, is that the internet is a form of transmission that the content providers seem to be very slow to adopt and I hope they find a profitable way to do so sooner than later.

  4. Besides Netflix and their own content creation, it is a no-brainier that new internet-only networks will soon start cropping up. With so much reality TV already on the market, it’s not like networks are pouring a lot of effort and money into their programming that would make it too difficult for as start-up to compete against, they are actually drawing attention to the fact that they are vulnerable.

  5. I got rid of DirecTV because I couldn’t afford it any longer. Had cable been available (it wasn’t, still isn’t, and probably never will be at any price, let alone something affordable), I would have gotten rid of that.

    Right now, I get all the local OTA, digital, HD channels (50+) for nothing, nada, zip. Not even a dime for the antenna as it’s the same one I installed over twenty years ago since I never took it down when we got DirecTV.

    Can someone explain how this isn’t going to cost consumers? When someone figures out how offer what Aero offers, without it costing me anything… call me. Until then, you’re asking me to pay for something I get for free.

  6. If the broadcasters and local networks would simply embrace the internet instead of trying to avoid it, Aereo wouldn’t even exist.

    If I live within 50 miles of a local station, I should have easy/cheap access to their signal. Those are MY airwaves leased by the government to the broadcaster.

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