Aereo is heading to the Supreme Court; Sony has big plans.

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

This is what Sony was doing at this year's CES. Doesn't it look fun? (Photo courtesy The Associated Press

This is what Sony was doing at this year’s CES. Doesn’t it look fun? (Photo courtesy The Associated Press

Aereo Goes To Washington

“If today’s kids become accustomed to Internet-based TV, tomorrow’s households will turn to the Internet rather than cable or satellite.”

So wrote CNet’s Joan E. Solsman on Wednesday. As it goes, the U.S. Supreme Court decided last week that it will indeed hear the case against Aereo, the oft-discussed tiny-antenna service that streams over-the-air channels to televisions via the Internet. In the wake of that announcement, Solsman wrote a sprawling, must-read piece that chronicles the entire argument to date. Among the golden nuggets:

  • “We’ve got here a narrow loophole created for broadcast programming in the copyright act. Credit Aereo for taking that loophole and driving a Mack truck through it.” Andrew Goldstein, an intellectual property attorney, said that, and it’s quite the quote. It comes after a breakdown of the difference between private and public performances. As we know by now, the crux of Aereo’s argument is that because it uses those tiny, dime-sized antennas for each customer, it offers a private service. That said, the argument has never been as perfectly summed up as it is here. God bless Mr. Goldstein.
  • The reason the networks are so whiny? Right now, retransmission fees bring them about 3.3 BILLION (not million) dollars. Estimates pin that number near $7 billion in a few years. Sure. So, Aereo must be illegal because well-coiffed men in suits might have to give up one of their airplanes if it’s not. Joke-tastic.
  • Maybe one of the less-talked-about results of all this? If Aereo wins, it would impact the way we see sports on television. Professional sports leagues would essentially be forced to move to cable networks (not that big of a deal, if you consider both how well ESPN has done and the rise of these conference/sport-specifc networks). You’ll have to click over to read the details, but I’ll tell you this: the phrase “no more NFL on CBS” is used.

Again: If you’ve got an extra 15 minutes, it’s certainly worth your time. With the Supreme Court scheduled to take up the case in April, we’ll be keeping a focused, keen eye on how this all goes down. The impact it has on how we consume not only television, but media as a whole, could be tremendous.

The Lone Highlight From CES

OK. So, maybe it’s not the lone highlight (remember the news we talked about regarding a Roku TV last week), but in terms of breakthrough Web TV technology at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the pickins are minimal. The biggest development of them all? Let’s turn to He Who Knows Everything, Brian Stelter …

“The day when Americans can buy a cable-like television service via the Internet is inching closer,” he wrote Jan. 7. “Sony on Tuesday said that it would start testing what it calls a ‘cloud-based TV service’ later this year. The company said the unnamed service would include a package of live television channels, on-demand TV episodes and digital video recorder capabilities.”

Read: Sony is doing what Intel announced it wanted to do in 2013. Duh.

In any case, the news warrants attention. Here’s the thing, though: What Sensational S wants to do is still expect people to pay for cable TV; it’s just that customers would receive the signal and/or content through the World Wide Internet as opposed to, say, the weird dude who works at Frederick Cable three times a week (side: I have no idea if something called “Frederick Cable” actually exists).

And it’s with this in mind, I now say … what’s the point? The cord-cutting phenomenon is largely based around the ideal that people get to save money and, in a perfect world, get the majority of the content they stream for free (save for Netflix and Hulu, of course). What’s the difference if you want to watch the Food Network by typing on a keyboard or a good, old-fashioned remote control? Not much.

Nice try, Sony. But we’ll have to hear more.

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