BY CHRISTOPHER ESSNER
Could the days of broadcast television be coming to an end? Maybe so if startup company Aereo is deemed legal by courts. Aereo is an internet startup company backed by IAC, which connects its subscribers to content broadcast over the airwaves through their internet connection for just $12 a month. The company allows viewers to watch both live, and recorded program – essentially an internet on-demand.
Aereo is currently only offered in New York City, but it is looking to expand into the top 22 markets throughout the country. The company is banking on the current trend of growing TV-less homes.
Broadcasters contend the service is equivalent to copyright infringement, while Aereo contend they are operating under their legal rights. Aereo points to a recent Cablevision case in which the courts ruled that a DVR set-top box was legal to use by the cable company.
“Aereo thinks it’s found a legal way to distribute live television over the internet without paying them. The broadcasters say it’s violating a lot of laws,” said Julia Boorstin of CNBC in an interview with Nightly News.
There have been network broadcasts in the United States since RCA first did it in 1939. For the first time in decades the broadcast network may be threatened in to extinction.
Broadcast networks rely on two forms of revenue streams to stay afloat- advertising and distribution fees paid by television providers. If their revenue streams were cut in half, many of these companies would go under. To combat this new potential threat two major broadcast networks, Fox and Univision, have both threatened to move their programing off air to cable networks.
Moving to a cable network may be surprising to some business executives, as the cable industry is currently battling the shift to internet as well. According to a Cross Platform Nielsen report, 67 percent of people stream video online. Netflix currently produces their own original programming. HBO is considering offering HBO GO, its highly successful streaming website, to non-cable subscribers.
At only $8-12 dollars per service per month, many people are seeing this as a cheaper option to cable, which can cost close to $100. The selective service may not be as diverse as a traditional cable lineup, but cable providers often package popular channels with less popular channels. We may be entering an age where you pay for channels that on interest you specifically.
As we move forward into the 21st century, the line between what a TV and what a computer is will continue to blur. This may make it much more attractive for people to cut the cord on their cable provider. The way we watch our favorite shows is changing. Only time will tell if this change is for better or worse.