Turn On, Tune In, Drop the Lawsuit
So, this website called Aereojust got sued by everymajor broadcast network.Why? Because Aereo letsyou watch broadcast TVchannels whenever you want. Andunlike Hulu or Netflix, where it can bedays/weeks/months before new episodescome out, Aereo is actually TV.
Right there, whenever you like, on yourbrowser, iPhone or iPad. Yes.
Let's be real: Nobody but Nielsenfamilies watches TV on a television setanymore. I bet so few people watch "TV"TV that only a few of you understood mykiller Nielsen family joke!
To be honest,who has time to sit around and watchthe tube? Most of it's not must-see; if itis-trust me-some bar in Williamsburghas a theme night for it. Not to mentionhow totally unhip it is to actually watchTV these days. We all know kids these daysare watching the Internet just like the restof us. If you are watching TV, it's likelyyou're using a DVR to do it, which is sortof what Aereo is about.
All the way back in 2009, Vishesh Kumarand Sam Schechner reported in the Wall
Street Journal, "The Supreme Court declinedto hear a challenge to a new type ofdigital video recorder from Cablevision SystemsCorp., [which set] the stage for wideruse of the technology." That, of course, wasthe good ol' Cablevision DVR Plus; muchlauded for not requiring a small object in aroom but derided for being unfathomably
slow in the beginning.When Cablevisionlaunched their bright idea, a slew of networkssued them too. Cablevision hired alawyer and won their case-no spoilers, butAereo just hired the same one.
The original defense rested on the factthat DVR Plus members were basicallydoing the same thing TiVo lets you do:recording content that anybody with anantenna and a TV has free access to. Everyrecording was saved to an individual's ownprivate virtual DVR storage. It's very muchlike when Universal and Disney sued Sony
because the Betamax was considered anevil piracy device. Aereo is is likely to usethe Cablevision defense because theirwhole system works by allotting memberstheir own private pair of micro-antennaelocated on the company's Brooklyn rooftop-in effect, you're paying Aereo to holdon to your antenna for you.
Like millions and millions of my contemporaries,to me, the Internet equals anAbsolutely Everything Machine. If it's not onthe Internet, I don't know about it. Even ifit is on the Internet, if it's not in the cheap-to-free price range, I actually do not want it.Aereo's $12/month price is not bad at all. Ifyou add in the price of monthly Netflix andHulu Plus accounts, the price tag for yourTV diet is still way less than my grandfatherpays for cable. After an extended Beta,Aereo launched for New York residents onMarch 14th. New users get a 90-day freetrial. Their website looks nice and the videoquality is just fine when you're watching itlive-that's right: live streaming video.
All this actually-on-the-air-right-nowcontent reminded me of what a hugeletdown it was back in the day whenthere was "nothing on!" But with Aereo, Iflipped ahead in the guide a bit, set it torecord 30 Rock, did things, came back at9 p.m. and was actually giddy! To think,my very own, brand-new episode of 30Rock saved snug in my 40 hours of DVRstorage space on the Aereo cloud and-What?! Under the Recordings tab, I found
a friendly, devil-red line of text that read:"Not recorded: System error."
I felt feelings then that I hadn't feltsince I once forgot to put a new VHS tape
in for the Star Trek: The Next Generationseries finale. There's bound to be issuesat first. And an episode of Seinfeld andan airing of the Addams Family movierecorded just fine later on.
Broadcastersneed to stopand take stockof their industry.Here is anotherexample,of many, of abusiness modelshowing us thatthe future oftelevision is notallergic to revenue. But still, these clunkyold brands are so afraid of reality thatthey've become incapable of taking all thismoney I've got sitting around.
Services like Aereo could be a non-candylifesaver for these guys. All of theingredients are there: TV, Internet, willingconsumers and money. And think of howmuch more in touch networks would bewith all the data available from a webaudience. Instead of spending cash pickingon the new kids, legacy media outfitsmight consider a few smart investments.
Don't be afraid of working together tomake life easier for consumers.
How do you get your sitcoms? Thinkthe plaintiffs are right? Let us know atnypress.com!
Follow @44carib on Twitter, just because.
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