In the Battle Over Aereo, CBS Explores the Nuclear Option

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 10:41 AM

CNet is reporting that CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves has suggested that it would stop broadcasting if the broadcast streaming service Aereo won a forthcoming supreme court case about the service's legality.

Aereo uses a technology that pairs subscribers with one of thousands of tiny antennas that live in data centers in selected cities around the country. Broadcasters say that the service violates copyright statutes against public performance, but so far lower courts have ruled in Aereo's favor. Aereo's monthly subscription service does an end run around having to subscribe to cable packages, and as a result, networks don't get the subscription fees that come from relationships with cable companies.

If broadcasters moved off of the public airwaves, I'd be interested to see how many people would pay a monthly subscriptions to CBS. It is hard for broadcasters to deny that there is a slow but steady bleed of people cancelling cable altogether which seems like a harbinger of a future that allows users to go completely À la carte with their TV consumption. So while Moonves' statement feels like kind of an empty threat, maybe he's just the loudest and most forward thinking broadcast network boss.


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Comments [4]

Wow. But if/when CBS does that, they would need very specialized Internet providers...

Hmmm, if only there was an online/television service provider out there -- ready to collect subscription fees, pick up signals and limit streams to specific DMAs, and have variable quality for different devices, and...

Oh wait.

Mar. 11 2014 02:16 PM
Eric Goebelbecker from Maywood, NJ

(Alternative interpretation.)

If you make my content easy to get online I'M GOING TO MAKE IT EASY TO GET ONLINE!

Mar. 11 2014 11:47 AM
Eric Goebelbecker from Maywood, NJ


Mar. 11 2014 11:45 AM
Ben from Brooklyn

Call his bluff. The networks were *given* free digital spectrum by the FCC (meaning by the American people) in exchange for broadcasting on it (and returning their old analog channels).

So if they want to go subscription only, they probably owe us the spectrum back.

Mar. 11 2014 11:19 AM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

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