I have been hearing about Aereo for a few months but when I saw this, I decided I needed to get up to speed a little more.
How worried are the owners of the major broadcast television networks about Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed digital television service they’ve been trying unsuccessfully to sue out of existence? Worried enough that at least two of them are actively entertaining the possibility of pulling their free over-the-air signals altogether.
That may sound like a doomsday scenario, but it’s happening, says Garth Ancier, a former top-level executive at NBC, Fox and WB. A Reuters story about the threats posed by Aereo and Dish Network’s ad-skipping Hopper DVR to the broadcast business model quoted Ancier making the claim that two of the Big Four networks — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — have for months been evaluating whether they might be better off becoming, in effect, cable channels. [More]
So some backstory.
Aereo, on the other hand, pulls broadcast signals out of the air and redirects them online to paying subscribers using a fleet of mini-antennas. The system is designed, in large part, to avoid having to pay the broadcasters any retransmission fees.Here is a demo of how this works.
“We need to be able to be fairly compensated for our content,” Carey said on Monday. “This is not an ideal path we look to pursue, but we can’t sit idly by and let an entity steal our signal.”
Aereo quickly responded with a statement, which noted that “having a television antenna is every American’s right.”
How many Americans are currently exercising their antenna rights? According to Nielsen (NLSN) and SNL Kagan, about 100 million of the 114 million U.S. homes with TV sets subscribe to cable, satellite, or fiber-optic pay-TV systems. If News Corp. limited Fox to cable and satellite subscribers, in other words, the majority of Americans wouldn’t even notice.
The 14 million homes that do get Fox over the airwaves shouldn’t expect to lose the signal anytime soon. The legal battle between Aereo and the broadcasters is just getting going. [More]
The implications are bigger for rural Americans, of course. It basically dooms us all to getting a satellite dish, I think. (Although a vast majority already do) That wouldn't be so bad if we could have a la carte pricing.
Where does that stand? Maybe closer to reality than we think as giant Verizon stunned the TV world with a step in that direction.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Verizon has plans to shake up the TV industry. It simultaneously wants to offer more channels on its FiOS TV service—and only pay for the shows its viewers are actually watching.The bottom line is things could change pretty radically pretty fast, IMHO. Despite having to crawl through the courts, if a clear outcome becomes apparent, events will run ahead of any settlement/decision.
The Journal article outlines Verizon's proposal, which amounts to paying individual channels by how many "unique views" of five minutes or more they ratchet up every month. That runs completely counter to the usual business model that Verizon currently has to play along with, paying a fixed, monthly per-subscriber fee.
But wait, it gets more controversial! Because Verizon wants to use data from its own set-top boxes—and not from the ratings body Nielsen—to calculate how much it owes each channel. Essentially, this amounts to the a la carte utopia envisioned by Apple for a TV service—and it's going to be raising plenty of eyebrows. [More]