Home & Office

Aereo loses battle, cord-cutters may win war

Aereo, the company that tried to bring over-the-air TV to the Internet, has filed for bankruptcy, but now the companies that fought it are bringing their shows to the Internet.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

It turns out Aereo, the company that tried to bring over-the-air (OTA) TV to cord-cutters really didn't have a plan B. On November 20th, the company announced on its Web site that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Aereo may be dead, but media companies are taking to the cloud and Internet to provide content anyway.

In a blog post, Chet Kanojia. Aereo's CEO and founder, announced that because "The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo’s technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty. And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome."

Therefore, "we filed for Chapter 11 reorganization proceedings." This "will permit Aereo to maximize the value of its business and assets without the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn out litigation in several courts."

This is the end of the road for Aereo. The company had argued—reasonably I thought—that renting you micro-antennas and then providing you with streaming and DVR services for your local OTA TV channels over the Internet was legal. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Aereo tried to come up with other legal arguments. None of them proved sufficient. In the end, Aereo decided that it wasn't worth pursuing the case any further.

Even though Aereo lost its battle, ironically it may have won the Internet war for cord-cutters. As Jason Perlow observed, before the decision was in, "The broadcast industry will still move on to the greener pastures of the Cloud. The tools that will be at their disposal and a superior ability to monetize their content are far too alluring to stay in the Over-the-Air and time-scheduled broadcast business for very long."

Perlow was right.

First, the premium cable channel HBO announced that it was coming to the Internet. Then, CBS, ZDNet's parent company and one of the companies that had sued Aereo, announced that would start Internet streaming. And, last—for now—the Spanish language cable TV network Univision has proclaimed that it too would start streaming its content to cord-cutters as well.

Who can blame them? Local OTA stations and the cable and satellite TV companies won't be going out of business tomorrow. But, with online streaming climbing at a rate of 388 percent per year and Internet TV giant Netflix seeing increasing subscriber growth, TV's future seems to be heading to the Internet.

Aereo, however, won't be there to see it.

Related Stories:

Editorial standards