Today, the Supreme Court struck down the business practices of Aereo, a streaming service that allows its subscribers to watch regular broadcast television on their mobile devices. Subscribers paid about $8 a month for the service and could also record live TV to watch later, similar to a DVR option.
Aereo has been around for about a year, starting in New York and expanding to ten other major cities in the United States. However, the broadcast networks successfully sued, claiming Aereo was violating federal copyright law because they were retransmitting copyrighted programming that they failed to pay fees for.
When asked in an interview with Bloomberg News back in March if Aereo has a "Plan B," CEO Chet Kanojia said, "No. There's no plan." He went on to say, "We believe in our merit and we do think it’s the right thing. Progress is important. The mission of this company was to try to create an open platform, to try to wedge the system open a little bit. And if we don’t succeed in that despite our best efforts, good law on our side, and the merits of our case, it will be a tragedy, but it is what it is."
Now that the highest court in the land has ruled against Aereo, Kanojia is backtracking (understandably) on his prior statement. "We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done," Kanojia told Ad Age today. "We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world."
While Kanojia now seems determined to continue Aereo, lead investor Barry Diller seems to have given up. Diller told CNBC, "We did try, but it's over now." Aereo had raised $97 million in venture capital so far, $34 million of which was raised after the court case began. This is certainly a fair amount of investment, but Diller considers the abandonment of Aereo "not a big [financial] loss to us." Though it might not be a crippling financial hit to investors, Diller is concerned what this ruling says for the future of streaming technology, "I do believe blocking this technology is a big loss for consumers, and beyond that I only salute Chet Kanojia and his band of Aereo'lers for fighting the good fight."
So it seems like Aereo's biggest fan is exiting as gracefully as possible. The future of the company remains quite shaky. Aereo would not comment on how they will proceed as a company. As of publishing time, you could still sign up for a free trial of the service on their website, but this might not last too long.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.