Aereo is pretty much done. The streaming service was handed a death blow on Wednesday, June 25, in a 6-3 vote by the United States Supreme Court when SCOTUS said they could no longer stream broadcast TV without paying copyright licensing fees, a move Aereo’s CEO Chet Kanojia said will probably kill his business.
Aereo rents TV antennas to users and then beams signals to the subscribers’ cell phones and tablets, giving subscribers the ability to watch – and record – broadcast TV over the Internet. The company’s argument is that their business model is no different than TIVO or DVR, but SCOTUS says Aereo is creating a public performance of the show and thus needs to pay the appropriate licensing fees.
Their loss is a big gain for network broadcasters, and those broadcasters are celebrating.
Disney said in a statement: “We’re gratified the Court upheld important Copyright principles that help ensure that the high-quality creative content consumers expect and demand is protected and incentivized.”
Disney is definitely speaking for its peers, too. Last year rumor had it that two of the four major networks – NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS – would consider moving to a pay-for-play cable model if the Court allowed Aereo to continue its practices. Those same four have been complaining for years that Aereo will only encourage other businesses to disrespect copyright laws and make a mess of broadcast television. It should also be noted that if companies like Aereo succeeded, networks would take a huge hit financially.
Instead, people will now have to stick with Hulu and Netflix for TV (which are costlier and don’t offer shows in real time) as Kanojia says the licensing fees just aren’t affordable. This outcome, however, doesn’t mean Aereo is backing down for good.
“We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work here is not done,” Kanojia said in a statement earlier today. “We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world.”