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MLB, NFL, say Aereo win would lead to exodus to cable

updated 04:28 pm EST, Mon November 18, 2013

Major sports leagues back broadcasters in Aereo struggle

The National Football League and Major League Baseball have come down firmly on the side of the broadcasters in their ongoing struggle to overcome Aereo in the courts. Filing an amicus brief last week, the two sports leagues said that they could move all of their games to cable television if Aereo is allowed to continue retransmitting content from the major broadcasters. The brief was the latest development in a wide-ranging legal struggle over what the broadcasters deem to be illegal retransmission of their protected content.

"The option for copyright holders will be to move that content to paid cable networks (such as ESPN and TNT) where Aereo-like services cannot hijack and exploit their programming without authorization," the leagues said.

A spokeswoman for Aereo declined to comment on the filing.

About 400 Major League Baseball games air each year on the traditional broadcast stations, including the World Series, which airs on Fox. Broadcasters also carry all NFL playoff games, as well as the Super Bowl. The two leagues say that Aereo's operations threaten their sports packages, with out-of-market games to fans introducing potential troubles for important sources of income.

Operating in a number of U.S. cities, Aereo uses an array of microantennas to capture broadcast content from the air. That data is then transmitted through the Internet to Aereo subscribers, who can then watch the content on their mobile devices, desktops, or notebooks. Aereo charges $8 per month for subscribers, with the option to store content in an online DVR for an additional fee.

The traditional broadcast networks see Aereo's operations as a threat to their business model, an illegal reperformance of their protected content. They have filed multiple suits against Aereo, winning some motions but losing others. In March, the CW, Fox, PBS, Univision, ABC, CBS, and NBC called for an injunction against Aereo's operations in New York. That motion, though, was declined.

ABC Television president Anne Sweeney described Aereo's model as "illegal... opportunistic piracy" earlier this year. The company, Sweeney said, is "taking advantage of our content, of our creative community, and using it for their own gain." The ABC chief promised that legal actions would continue in order to get Aereo to cease operations.

Responding to Sweeney, Aereo CEO Barry Diller said that the broadcasters' lawsuits have drawn attention to Aereo and, in a manner, have helped it attract customers.

Meanwhile, Aereo has continued to expand, and the service hopes to be up and running in 22 more cities by the end of 2013.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Translation: If you do not institute a legislative prohibition on something that is completely legal and people really want to do, but we have not provided a convenient way for them to do for any legitimate technical reason, we will be raging jerks, take our ball and puck (literally) and go home.

    Classy, guys.

    The funny part about the entire argument is that Aereo's business could be completely destroyed if the broadcasters gave up on the decades-old isolated market ridiculousness and gave people what they obviously want--a reasonably-priced way to watch the ad-supported TV being broadcast in one area from wherever they currently are. But instead of actually doing that, the media conglomerates are trying to legislate their problem away.

    It's exactly like the music industry clinging to overpriced album sales and trying to sue their file sharing problem away, when Apple walked in and gave people what they want, and rapidly became the biggest music retailer on earth.

  1. coitus

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-17-00

    Agreed. I cut the cord several years ago and will never go back. They just want to maximize profits with the consumer as a distant secondary concern. It seems cord-cutters are starting to get their attention but not enough for them to listen as they have balked for several years at what must surely be the hundreds of millions of dollars Apple has thrown their way to "do TV right."

  1. efithian

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-21-04

    The same lies that were given a few months ago. Here is what was said:

    They have filed multiple suits against Aereo, winning some motions but losing others.

    In truth, Aereo has not lost a single motion. So why the same bullshit?
    Cable operators are going down, with my blessing. Antennas are going up, small or large. Cable operators will be left with broadband sales for a yea or so and then cellular will take that over. My T-Mobile LTE at my home is faster than the fastest offering from my cable company.

  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-13-09

    Makosuke, it's not even 'region-shifting'. Aereo only lets you subscribe to stations where you live, so they are effectively saying "We will take our ball home if you don't stop people from renting antennae."

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    efithian: just to correct you on your mistaken belief that Aereo have never lost a court motion:

    Yes they have. I'm not defending the cable networks, I'm just pointing out that you're factually wrong on this one point.

  1. bjojade

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-07-07

    I can understand why cable companies are freaked out, but not TV stations. Local TV stations spend millions on huge antennas to broadcast the signal for free to start with. These little antennas simply capture that broadcast and route it to the end user's device, who then has to watch the show, ads and all. i.e., more viewers for the TV stations.

    The fact that cable companies have been paying to re-broadcast transmission signals that should already be ad supported is a farce that should have been done away with long ago.

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