Aereo’s Houston TeeVee Service Likely a Bust After This Morning’s Supreme Court Ruling

AEREO’S HOUSTON TEEVEE SERVICE LIKELY A BUST AFTER THIS MORNING’S SUPREME COURT RULING Cyrus One West Houston Data Center, 5150 Westway Park Blvd., HoustonSo which West Houston data center is the one crowded with all those tiny Aereo antennas on its roof? The secret location shouldn’t need to stay secret for much longer, since the Supreme Court issued a ruling this morning essentially declaring the company’s service — which grabs TV signals from local broadcasters and streams them over the internet to subscribers for a fee — to be illegal. In a 6-to-3 decision (with dissent, notably, from the judges generally considered the most conservative), the court declared that Aereo functions similarly to a cable service, and should be subject to the same regulations, copyright laws, and fees charged by television networks. Aereo currently operates in Houston and 10 other cities. [USA Today; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Houston West Data Center (probably not the Aereo location) at 5150 Westway Park Blvd.: CyrusOne

16 Comment

  • Completely stupid decision and shows how beholden the Justices are to the industry lobbyists.

    If I pay Aereo to hold an antenna for me and keep shows for me (keeping my own copy of the show) and only I can play those shows, how is that different from me going out and getting an antenna and a usb TV tuner and recording the shows myself?

    Aereo isn’t recording the airwaves and handing out the same recordings to everyone using one antenna. Complete BS.

  • This is from the same Supreme Court that referred to Netflix as “Netflick.”

  • What a garbage ruling. You can only stifle innovation in favor of established, lazy businesses for so long.

  • Interesting. Not taking sides, but if people want a service like this, why don’t they just go get an antenna and a usb tv tuner and record the shows themselves? Isn’t that the same thing? Just curious.

  • Even though I don’t really watch TV, I’m disappointed that Aereo lost their case. To address Tomv’s question, it’s not the same. Where I live (in the city no less), I only get a few channels with an indoor HDTV antenna. I’d have to go install a roof-mounted antenna and make sure that it complies with my HOA regulations. A lot of people don’t want to be DIY and would rather pay for a service to do the work.

  • tomv: Why don’t you go grocery shop and cook every single meal yourself?

    Because companies can sometimes provide better service than individuals, and because we’re lazy.

  • Once again this confirms the US is indeed an oligarchy. Stupid decision no doubt influenced by big bucks waving in the air. But in the end, what Aereo did was no different than what you can already do on your own. Its like Metallica taking on Napster. Embrace new technology because it’s here whether you like it or not.

  • Tomv, as others have stated, Aereo’s business model is (was) basically to lease out the setup that you’ve described. I’m disappointed in the ruling, as it seemed like a great way to get more value out of freely available public broadcasting.

  • I have to respectfully disagree with most of the pro-Aereo arguments here. Had the Supreme Court found in favor of Aereo, Congress would have resolved the issue. Frankly, Alito is right–the Supreme Court should not have plugged any leaks in the Copyright Act, that’s Congress’s job. But to pretend that what Aereo has been doing is on the up-and-up is pretty silly. Basically Aereo’s argument was this, “yeah, we are ripping off the broadcasters, but isn’t it clever that it technically doesn’t violate the Copyright Act!??”

  • Aero was trying to do what cable companies started out doing, just updated for the internet. Cable companies used to have a really nice antenna, which they hooked to a cable and ran to your house. Everyone shared the same antenna, basically.

    The problem with Aero’s business model is that they didn’t want to pay the fees that cable companies have to pay. They said because it wasn’t one antenna, and it was digital, and hand waving, then the fees didn’t apply to them somehow. I would have been shocked if the Supreme Court had been couldn’t see that as an attempt to sidestep the law.

  • aereo’s only “innovation” was to find a legal loophole they could exploit to reduce the costs to consumers for another companies output. whether or not it’s illegal is of no interest to me, it does nothing to provide added value to the economy or industrial innovation other than skimming money off the top of others peoples actual work and efforts while doing nothing to support said work.

  • Ripping off the broadcasters how, exactly? The same way you rip them off when you view their broadcast signal for free otherwise?

  • No, the problem for the networks was Aereo was making a buck off doing what people have been doing to them and they want their piece of the pie. It wasn’t a perfect service and I only used it to get the channels I couldn’t get on Hulu. Comcast can kiss my ass if they think I’m going to pay more than $100/month so I can see CBS clearly where I live.

  • I’d love to get a few of those antenna buttons …..

  • Whole I’m disappointed in the decision, at least the conservative justices got it right. If they were in the wrong side of the decision I’d have two reasons to be bummed out.

  • tomv: I echo Fernando’s comment in that I live in the city near Downtown. When I moved in, I checked the antenna maps to see if I had clear access to the towers south of Houston (I did), and I got an antenna. Unfortunately, my neighbor’s house blocks the path enough that I would only get a few channels, and with a lot of noise/digitization.

    I don’t watch on-air TV often (Thank you, Roku!), but still wanted to get breaking news/weather, should something happen. I chose Aereo. Now it seems, I’ll have to rely solely on web broadcasts, if available. No way I’m paying for cable month after month after month to watch crap TV again.

    And for $8 option, no way I was going to go through the trouble of going to the HOA to install a roof-mounted antenna.