Big Broadcast Wildcards: Aereo To The Supremes
Aereo, the company that gives consumers low-cost monthly digital access to broadcast networks, is telling the broadcasters to bring it on: Let’s go to the Supreme Court. Tough talk.
A big question: Will a new retransmission consent fight add fuel to disrupting the overall broadcast business?
Aereo told the high court it should agree to hear the broadcasters’ appeal of a lower court decision that went Aereo’s way.
It sounds like, from Aereo’s prospective, confidence is everything. Or is this just a big bluff? Aereo wants to cut to the chase, which makes sense. A business model can only withstand so much.
Aereo claims its technology is at the base of things. It says its individual “digital” antennas are no different than physical rooftop antennas that TV consumers can still use. So there’s no copyright infraction as claimed by the broadcasters.
CBS believes that should things not go its way, it’ll turn into a cable network. That’s another business model work-in-progress. Other broadcast networks would likely follow.
But that’s not the only point of attack on the broadcast system.
There’s new reform afoot to eliminate or change retransmission consent rules. That could drastically alter the way TV stations charge cable and satellite operators for retransmitting their programs. This would further tweak broadcasters to consider becoming cable networks.
We all know the math. As a cable network, CBS and others could sink significantly further in viewership, giving even more weight to top cable networks. But perhaps they also look to explore other businesses.
CBS and other networks have the position that their networks are better viewed and more valuable than cable networks -- and that they thus deserve more money from TV providers than what is paid to cable networks.
All this seems to make it easy companies to pick sides. But not really.
For example, the fifth largest cable operator, Cablevision, said that Aereo’s service violates copyright laws. To make matters more confusing, other multichannel TV providers like DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are mulling the possibility of starting their own Aereo-like services.
The question then still hovers: Is the concept of over-the-air broadcast TV just a thing of the past, and, if so, what exactly should change?
Sounds like everyone is looking for common financial structures while at the same time looking to keep the competitive advantages they have earned. No easy task. All the while new digital technology continues to push for disruption. But those pushed around may surprise us.