CBS Says It Could Move To Cable In A 'Few Days' If Aereo Wins; Receives Several Offers To Help Pack Its Bags

from the a-forwarding-address-really-won't-be-necessary dept

CBS has officially joined the chorus of angsty executive voices expressing their displeasure with Aereo by threatening to take their ball and go cable. Only this time, Moonves really means it.

CBS CEO Les Moonves has said before that he’s talked with New York cable operators about taking his network cable-only if Aereo is allowed to keep streaming what it broadcasts on the internet, but now he’s saying that he could make the switch in as little as a few days “if we are forced to.”

“Forced to?” What a small-minded, self-serving, overly dramatic “threat.” I’ll join Mike and a majority of our readers in inviting Moonves to go do exactly that ASAP. Stop arsing about in court and just take that shiny ball of yours and cram it into the overcrowded cable market and see exactly who notices your departure or arrival.

By taking free CBS broadcasts off the airwaves, Moonves says, “about 10 percent of America will not get our signal and I don’t think they will like that.”

And when people out there in flyover country (or wherever Moonves imagines this 10% lives) find themselves short a free TV signal, do you really think they’re going to be pissed off at an antenna manufacturer whose only sin was its cord was “too long?”

In case Moonves might feel such a question purely rhetorical, allow me to point out the obvious: they will blame the station that went “off the air” for reasons even the courts are having trouble understanding. CBS will be the villain, along with FOX and whoever else decides the only way to compete in a market is to exit it.

And, yes, CBS is still claiming the courts will find “stealing” its precious signal “illegal.” So far, this doesn’t seem to be happening. If CBS really wants to play chicken with Aereo, I can only suggest it’s not doing it nearly fast enough. Go ahead and give up the free airwave access and the enviable spot as a big fish in a rather limited pond and become just another number out of hundreds, distinguishable only by the number of executives suddenly grumpy they’re running a cable channel rather than a network.

Even if Aereo cuts these channels out of retransmission fees from cable operators, who cares? This was the networks’ short-sighted decision, one based on wringing money out of something they give away for free to anyone without cable. If Aereo is the cord-cutter’s best friend, what does jumping to cable accomplish? If that’s the scenario, CBS is better off losing the retransmission fees and staying on open airwaves where it takes nothing more than an antenna to access its programming, rather than exiling itself to a service people seem more and more willing to abandon.

If CBS thinks threatening to move to cable is going to turn the public against upstarts like Hopper or Aereo, it really has no idea what the public actually wants. It will simply turn itself into a lumbering villain at best and gone-but-barely-remembered also-ran at worst.

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Companies: aereo, cbs

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Comments on “CBS Says It Could Move To Cable In A 'Few Days' If Aereo Wins; Receives Several Offers To Help Pack Its Bags”

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Maeridius says:

Re: Re: Re: Public Airwaves

This could be less about Aereo and more about the competition. I’ll tell a little story so you get a better idea of what I’m getting at.

Three boys are standing at the top of a tall cliff. Far below, the ocean and a few jagged outcroppings can be seen. One boy turns to the other two and says, “On the count of three, lets all jump. Trust me, it’ll be loads of fun!” Holding hands and swaying with each count, two of the boys jump while the third one lets go and simply watches, laughing to himself as they plunge downwards towards their potential doom.

Wolfy says:

Re: Dan Rather

He didn’t “make stuff up”… he didn’t have enough people to go out on a limb with him, and feel the full weight of the moneyed class. Bush was a war deserter. Period. Too bad no one wanted to incur the ire of the former DCI. Go study the history quick, before that too, gets re-written.

Beech says:

What I can't understand...

Money earned directly from someone watching via antenna: $0
Money earned directly from someone watching via Aereo: $0

Wait…what? So they make the same either way? Oh, they make money off of advertisers buying time on their network. Time becomes more valuable the more people watch it. So…

Number of people watching CBS over the air: X
Number of people watching CBS over the air + over Aereo: >/= X

Wait…what? So more eyeballs? Shouldn’t that mean more ad money? Maybe there’s a problem determining the ratings?…

OTA ratings: Compiled by Neilson based on a tiny sample group that we pray is representative of the whole.
Aereo ratings: Aereo could technically (and probably does)count EXACTLY how many viewers are watching when/for how long/and from where in the world.

So…in a business of selling eyeballs, Aereo dumps a huge truck load of eyeballs on their doorstep and gets sued over it. On top of this CBS’s own eyeball inventory is awfully inaccurate and Aereo’s drop has an immaculate inventory sheet attached. And Aereo still get’s sued.

And now, on top of everything, CBS is threatening to remove itself from the eyeballs of a bunch of viewers, to prevent the eyeballs of a BUNCH of other viewers from seeing them in a way they don’t care for? In a business where eyeballs = money?

This case makes less sense by the minute.

teka (profile) says:

Re: What I can't understand...

To be fair (as if they deserved fair play after being handed so much while still whining so much) CBS and all the others don’t actually want solid, verifiable numbers for figuring out their ratings and Ad buys. They want fuzzy numbers extrapolated from tiny samples and massaged by magical formulas devised by companies who make their living supplying these figures and making the networks happy.

Beech says:

Re: Re: What I can't understand...

That seems to make sense. Im sure CBS could “persuade” Aereo to fuzz up their numbers a bit though. I mean, what if we assume that in reality, each IP address actually represents 4.3 viewers because, come on, people totally have a group of people watching their monitor over their shoulders ALL THE TIME, right? Or maybe they can delete all but .05% of all the IP addresses and pretend the .05% is represenative. Im sure Aereo would be willing to work with them a bit in order to get the suit dropped.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What I can't understand...

I have to assume that all the deals they make with satellite and cable providers to carry their networks is a sizeable chunk of money too – and if people ditch cable and satellite in favor of Aereo, they lose that potential revenue. I’m not sure what is more, but I have to assume the cable/satellite deals are worth more to them if they’re willing to ditch potential Aereo watchers.

Also, I think advertising is sold per local market, and since Aereo screws up the location that the ads are being displayed, making them worth less to the advertisers. A national advertiser might be happy about it, however… so I don’t know.

Argonel (profile) says:

Re: Re: What I can't understand...

Last I heard Aereo does some significant location verification to make sure that you are actually in the same market as where their antenna is located. So the only thing you are getting from Aereo is stuff you could get if you were able to put up your own antenna.

CBS is spiting people who want to watch badly enough to pay someone for the privilege of receiving something that is broadcast for free.

Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

I’d really like to see him tell all the CBS affiliates they can no longer broadcast his company’s content over the air. That is essentially what he’s saying.

Besides the obvious avalanche of lawsuits from all those station owners I’m guessing the public outrage would have every grandstanding politician in the country lining up to take a swing at the CBS pi?ata.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

CBS, like other over-the-air networks has only a small number of Owned-and-Operated stations (usually in the biggest cities like NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.) directly controlled by the network itself.
The “CBS” stations in smaller cities (like Salt Lake City or Tampa) are actually independent locals who carry CBS programming, but can substitute their own if they disagree with the network’s decisions.
(For example, a number of NBC affiliates refused to carry “The Playboy Club” series, feeling it would be too racy for their audience!)

ScytheNoire (profile) says:

Spoiled Brats

I love how the network stations are acting like spoiled children who if they don’t get their way will take their toys and leave.

I’m calling their bluff, because I don’t think they’ll do it. Prove me wrong CBS, FOX, and any others. Get off the public airwaves. After all, antenna users are just a bunch of free-loaders who just like pirates.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Spoiled Brats

Isn’t CBS’s contract with the NFL is linked to over the air transmission of NFL games? Same for FOX. Let them void their contract over this and see how the No Fun League treats them.

There are contracts with Local affiliates, valuable spectrum rights that might lapse in the markets where they own the affiliates and local advertising revenues.

Anonymous Coward says:

This makes even less sense when you stop to think that over the air is the way you get HD uncompressed, giving a much better image than through cable that is forced to compress the HD in order for it to be transmitted with all the other channels. So they are not only willing to drop their income level but also their product quality.

That HD uncompressed is one of the best sellers the over the air has. Maybe the only one. Someone load that gun, CBS has a desire to put holes in their feet.

Mr. Applegate says:

CBS, take your ball and head to cable, see if I care. Quite frankly you don’t have any decent programming anyway. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the last time I watched CBS. I would love to see all CBS network affiliates sue you.

Might even take you out of contention for event broadcasting contracts. I am certain other networks will be happy to ‘fill in the gaps’

Go ahead pull OTA (over the air) I double dog dare you. You wouldn’t walk away from a dare would you?

horse with no name says:

told you

What CBS would likely to is fill OTA with repeats and out of date stuff, and use it solely to promote it’s cable offerings. They would likely make it low quality, and the only good thing would be the local news.

CBS can make as much as a cable network, viewership these days is about programming and not as much about signal. They could also avoid the stupid FTC censors who get pissed off everytime someone says a bad word.

Libby Stack (user link) says:

I’ll speak for the 10%. I have broadband internet only and watch broadcast TV. The rest of the stuff I get over the internet. I don’t have any Kardashian or Honey Boo Boo addictions so even cable is kind of a joe to me. Haven’t had cable since 1994. If CBS went to cable, wouldn’t bother me. I don’t need multiple CSI and NCIS programs.

Spoiled Brats above brought up an interesting point about the NFL contracts. Go ahead CBS, and I’ll watch your smoke as you try to run away from getting sued for breach.

As far as abandoned spectrum all of the stations would have to leave I think, and don’t think for one minute that the FCC wouldn’t love that. Auction anyone?

horse with no name says:

Re: Re:

They wouldn’t get sued. They would likely fill CBS-ota with crappy programs, second runs, third runs, etc. Maybe they can run 3-5 year old movies every night, fulfilling their side of any affiliate deal. Affiliate deals are an old fashioned way of doing business anyway, you guys should be happy to see the buggy whip business of broadcasting go away. Affiliates are just middle men taking money.

Jon B. (profile) says:

“flyover country”?

It’s the urban centers that get a lot of OTA TV. Where I like, I MAY be able to get an ABC affiliate on a good day with the antenna pointed in the right direction and the wind blowing the right way.

The more rural areas are going to be satellite only, which these days is about as good an option as any. I had DirecTV for two years and I didn’t hate it. I don’t have it anymore, but I didn’t hate it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Everyone should be concerned about this because if Aereo wins and CBS goes to Cable, it could lead to the other networks following suit. ABC and NBC would follow suit as well.

If Aereo wasn’t making money, then I think they would have a legal basis to be doing what it is they are doing. But, Aereo is making money from content that was created and produced by CBS. It’s no better than sharing torrent files of Iron man 3 online.

You can complain all you want, but it is “stealing”, “theft” and violating copyright.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Even though you’re either an obvious shill or troll I still need to point out how wrong you are.

If CBS moves to cable it frees CBS’ slice of the OTA ratings pie to be split amongst the rest, like NBC and ABC. They’ll be very happy to take that increased viewership and use it to increase advertising rates.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

if Aereo wins and CBS goes to Cable, it could lead to the other networks following suit. ABC and NBC would follow suit as well

Good grief. There are plenty of competitors willing to fill the gap in the field.

ut, Aereo is making money from content that was created and produced by CBS.

No, they are making money out of the service they are offering. And CBS is making money of the advertising that relies on the eyeballs that Aereo provide.

It’s no better than sharing torrent files of Iron man 3 online.

It’s actually the same. The so-called pirate sites offer a service that people find valuable. And if so much money is being made there why hasn’t the MAFIAA started a similar service with official content? Small trackers can easily maintain themselves with the help of their community I’m sure we can expect ppl to throw money in droves for comfort, convenience and availability. nods at Netflix in the US

You can complain all you want, but it is “stealing”, “theft” and violating copyright.

Yes, stealing something available for free for anyone that can get the signal. I wonder where you get your definitions from. As for violating copyright the courts will decide on it since anything and everything seems to violate copyright in the views of the MAFIAA. Youtube? Check. Veoh? Check. VHS? Check. MP3 player? Check. Cassette? Check. [Insert any technology]? Check. It seems that people in that level of delusion shouldn’t have any say in any copyright issue.

Gatewood Green (profile) says:

Re: Aereo is theft

How is it stealing? Aereo is providing a technical service to solve a technical problem.

The problem: my antenna can only reach so far. (better antennas require more money)

The solution: place an antenna closer for you and transmit the result to you. (probably cheaper than the antenna I’d have to buy)

Anytime someone provides a solution to your problem, they are free to charge for that service. If I take your accusation to it’s logical conclusion, Ford, GM and Chrysler should be suing taxi services for cheating them out of being able to sell more cars.

The TV station does not charge the viewer cash for the content. The charge is to watch the commercials. The Aereo viewer has the same signal and technical obligations and gets no additional access to content than having living close enough or having a high enough/nice enough antenna to receive via a local TV antenna would provide.

Additionally, Large networks like HBO which charge cash (not commercials) for viewing their content get paid by cable companies to be carried. Smaller networks (CBS likely being under that category) pay the cable company to carry them.

So explain to me under what law, explicit or common, that Aereo is to be prosecuted (civil or criminal). Saying something is illegal does not make it so. Provide some documentation or at least logical explanation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Big fat fine...

Incorrect. The FCC cannot force any television network to remain free off cable. You are putting too much power with the FCC and that is not the way they work. Local television studios will have to adapt or merge with others or close down.

If the three networks, ABC, NBC and CBS move to cable, there isn’t a damned thing the FCC can do about it. It would be like Detroit forcing GM to keep its headquarters in Detroit if it decided to move overseas.

The FCC cannot fine any of these networks if they decided to take their programming to cable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Big fat fine...

But they can if they don’t fulfill their contractual obligations to the FCC lisencing agreements concerning OTA transmissions…it would be breach of contract because the local news agencies affiliated with CBS have to be OTA and cable if their parent company is. CBS just can’t cut it off, they have to renew their contract license to do so…which takes years to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Too many people are talking about the FCC like it has the power to force any of these three networks to remain free and available to consumers.

WRONG. The reason being is that the FCC does not have the power to force ABC, NBC or CBS to remain where they are, free to the public. The fact is that Aereo is stealing the content that they have paid for. Has Aereo entered into a profit sharing agreement with CBS to rebroadcast the content that CBS pays for? Not at all. And Aereo is keeping 100% of the profits that it is making from its rebroadcast transmissions.

You can spout “FCC this” and “FCC that” but the simple fact of the matter is that the FCC cannot force these networks to remain free and off cable. The content will still be made available and the move by CBS to move exclusively to cable will undoubtedly create severe hardships among local studios but there is nothing the FCC can do.

I suspect that if CBS moves to cable that NBC and ABC will do the same. With NBC being owned by Comcast, the FCC cannot even fine Comcast, provided Comcast continues to offer the NBC content to other cable companies.

Do not be mislead. The FCC cannot fine CBS for making this move. Even that particular remedy is beyond their power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I hate to burst your bubble, but NBC, ABC, and CBS are providers. The reason they would get a fine over this is due to the fact that they have contractual obligations to local officiated stations.

If a local affiliate station choses to broadcast OTA transmissions for digital antenna systems such as Aero, then the parent company cannot drop its use or block content streaming to that affiliated station…because they are contracted to distribute the parent company’s content. You break that contract and the FCC will fine your ass.

Also…the affiliates have contracts with local cable companies to transmit data to them via satalite and OTA so that data can be streamed to our cable TV sets. Once again, if CBS totally cut off OTA they would be forcing local offiliates to breach contracts with cable providers…again the FCC will fine their asses and then the FTC would get involved and up their ass as well.

DannyB (profile) says:

Go ahead, please make the switch. I did.

CBS, please make the switch to cable.

This month I made the switch from cable.

Got rid of cable channels and switched to the highest tier internet service. Already had Netflix and Hulu. Added Amazon Prime. Might add RedBox, maybe. Will be upgrading Netflix to new family plan.

We are adding a TV to a room, and upgrading the last CRT in another room. We discovered something. Everywhere we need a TV, like in the kitchen, etc, we don’t need a cable outlet there! Just some kind of a box. Roku. Google TV. Wii. Etc, and use WiFi. We’re jukeboxing our large DVD collection onto our server. Our phones and tablets can access it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Go ahead, please make the switch. I did.

You could use DLNA from a cable box if you choose so…Roku is awesome. We only have basic cable and high speed Internet…I use a video capture card hooked up to one of my PC’s and use VLC as the DLNA service for our smart TV’s 🙂 We use a Roku2 SX for Netflix, Hulu, and Anazon Prime.

Shon Gale (profile) says:

Cable TV doesn’t respond to my requests which are “Let me pay for only the Channels I want”. I really, really don’t want all the extra channels. So I stopped buying it. Cable AND Dish, the big come on for the big ripoff. I don’t know what LALA Land the CBS CEO is living in but the lala land I live in, CBS is required by law to broadcast over the open airwaves. ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and the GW are all networks and required by the FCC to broadcast. That’s it no more argument. After all we were forced to buy all those stupid digital boxes so we could watch TV.

Anonymous Coward says:

Free money

This whole thing makes no sense.
The networks want to turn away free money.

The networks send me the programming for free…all I need is an antenna. But some people can’t receive a reliable signal and cannot watch free ota tv. But a company comes along says they can provide you free ota tv via the Internet and the networks get upset!…WTF.
I even stream from rabbit ears to all my devices and to my friends for free…lots of people do it, and their shows get more viewers because of it.

Sure Aero makes some money but nothing changes for the networks except they make more money via ad dollars (more viewers)

The BOD of these networks need to get them some Balls and get some CEO’s that get the internet and start monetizing it…Even I can figure this one out.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s not free. It would be the same if I decided, as a private individual, to take a televised sports broadcast and re-broadcast it through the internet. What I’m doing is stealing the signal, rebroadcasting it, and charging people for it.

I’m not allowed to do that. Even if the original broadcaster is using public airwaves to do that themselves.

It’s no better than splicing the cable of my next door neighbor and getting “free cable” in my home. I can;t do that because then I’m misappropriating the broadcast signal without paying for it.

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