“We are a technology company,” said Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo at the recent ACA Summit in Washington D.C. In the above interview, Kanojia suggests the idea that Aereo’s technology could be used by the very cable operators that, at the surface, would seemingly be competitors. Of course, this week is when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments for and against the use of Aereo’s $8 per month service and its underlying cloud technology (remote antennas, transcoding, network DVR, client device) as an alternate way to present broadcast signals to consumers.
Fifteen organizations that filed amicus brief are found here at a site set up by Aereo to help it bolster its case. These groups are a mixed bag that quite often have different viewpoints, such as Echostar, LLC and Dish Technologies, LLC, the American Cable Association and a group calling itself the “Small and Independent Broadcasters in Support of Aereo“. This last group includes independent broadcasters that carry local and often niche content. As an aside, one of the broadcasters in this group owns a station that has the legendary WKRP in Cincinnati call sign (their signal is also available via Aereo).
As the Small and Independent Broadcasters group points out, the sort of technology promulgated by Aereo helps them reach a wider audience than a broadcast-only approach. As such, it helps their business model. Reinforcing this view are statistics from market research firm, Centris, that suggests, “More than half (53%) of these households said they would be likely to adopt Aereo should it become available in their area.” Their survey suggests that MVPDs would lose out, as 4 in 10 pay-TV households would likely cancel their video service if the Aereo service were available in their area.
As pointed out by ACA’s Matt Polka, Aereo’s approach is disruptive in a way that is similar to the disruption his members caused when they started their cable operations decades ago. Like other disruptive technologies, there will be winners and losers and new business models formed to take advantage of the technology changes. Whether or not Aereo’s business model survives the scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court remains to be seen, but Aereo’s underlying technology approach of processing and storage in the cloud points to the future of all TV (whether broadcast, cable, IPTV, multiscreen or whatever one wants to call it).
2014 ACA Summit coverage brought to you by the ACA and ViodiTV.