I have tried to become a cord-cutter, and so far, it’s not working for me. With an indoor antenna, I’ve been able to access local stations and some of the subchannels they offer—mainly old TV shows and movies. It's not enough.
If I were a devout, Bible-thumping Christian or Latino, I might have a different view. There are plenty of Hispanic channels and religious channels I can get over-the-air.
I do watch local news, the big public service of television stations. But mainly, it’s not news. It’s the crime report punctuated by a pretty weatherwoman.
So, for many sinning English-speaking viewers like me, only-broadcast TV isn’t much to get excited about. And I’m of the generation that grew up with TV, not the Internet. A giant bubble of the emerging population is quite comfortable with watching what they will watch online. Their kids will be more so.
In the end, all that makes me wonder if all the clamoring about Aereo is, well, false clamoring.
I watched Katie Couric interview Chet Kanojia for her new gig at Yahoo. He’s the articulate and affable Aereo CEO and here he was making his case online for Aereo's legality before his lawyers do at the Supreme Court.
Up until now, all of my Aereo news has come from print sources, most of it trade sites that angle at it from the disruptive business point-of-view. Couric was talking to the masses, who Kanojia is aiming his $8-$12 a month service toward.
For example, her first question was: “So, Chet, in sixth-grade terms, can you explain what Aereo is?” In the course of a 20-minute interview, Kanojia, given the opportunity to explain the riches Aereo could bring to viewers for a lot less money, mentioned “Extra,” the new Fox series, “Cosmos” and morning news shows. I think the last one he said just to stroke Couric, the former early-bird star.
Obviously, there are other, better things than that on broadcast TV. But unless you grew up with the Big 4 networks and now have assumed its rhythms, it’s never been easier to break away, if only you can wait a couple days to watch popular shows.
Along the way, Couric asked him about complaints, not from broadcasters, but from Aereo users. A couple of them said Aereo crapped out when many of them tuned in at the same time. “I could not watch an awards show because it was too popular,” a New York viewer wrote. Kanojia replied that consumers often don’t understand lousy cable Internet providers that can’t or don’t provide the capacity. (Ask Netflix.)
In the end though, it seems, Kanojia makes a better case for Aereo’s legality than its usefulness. Couric at one point says that the service Aereo provides is the same thing she could do with an ordinary antenna, a point he could hardly dispute, except to note that to record broadcast TV, she’d need to subscribe to TiVo. To watch it on her iPad, she’d need Slingbox, and “probably have technical expertise” and in the end, she’d spend $1,000 doing that.
That, ultimately, is Aereo’s pitch, though it has to put it in between the lines. You can get broadcast TV for $8 a month, and really, that's about what it's worth to you. Resistable!