Trying to Turn Lemons into Lemonade: Aereo Fails to Redefine Itself as a Cable System

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 9.14.40 AMBy Sam Hampton

This month, the streaming television service provider Aereo suffered a second major legal defeat. The first came last spring, when the Supreme Court held that the live streaming of television content over the Internet, Aereo’s core business model, violated the Copyright Act. (We previously covered that case here and here.) Now a federal district court has granted the broadcasters relief in that case: a nationwide preliminary injunction against Aereo’s live streaming of content. Does this pair of decisions effectively spell the end of the company? Or can Aereo redefine its business model and live on?

Aero operated by establishing a system of small antennas that capture broadcast television. A subscriber to the company would pay for the use of such an antenna, which would transmit the signal over the Internet to a device for viewing. The content streamed by Aereo was only slightly delayed, allowing for the near simultaneous viewing of live television broadcasts. Aereo did not pay fees to the broadcasters, and from its inception was the object of their ire. Aereo was initially successful in court battles, but the company’s luck ran out at the Supreme Court. Continue reading

Taking (Away) Your TV Shows To-Go

ImageBy Amy Wang

Last week, Hulu announced that it will extend video streaming services this summer—and disrupt already low summertime productivity—by providing free, full TV episodes and movies on mobile devices, a feature normally reserved for Hulu Plus subscribers and limited to select clips. Although this is probably a temporary, promotional stunt to boost subscribership, the announcement comes just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court considered the legal implications of a similar video streaming service.

On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for American Broadcasting Company, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc—for a thorough discussion of the case, see our winter publication. The premise of the case focuses on Aereo’s business model. The company provides its subscribers (currently, limited to NYC residents) unique technology: each subscriber is assigned a small antenna located at Aereo’s facility which captures and records live TV broadcasts and re-distributes them to the subscribers’ devices over the Internet. Subscribers can then watch shows live on their mobile devices, stop, and pick up the same programming when they get home on their tablet, computer, or TV. Continue reading