Why The Networks Are Really Afraid Of Aereo: Time Warner Cable Says It Might Offer Aereo-Like Service

from the getting-around-their-transmission-fees dept

The TV networks' fight against Aereo, including their recent hilarious threats to pull their networks off the air and put them on cable always seemed really exaggerated. Aereo is a tiny startup, with a questionable business model and not that many customers. It does some nice things, but how many people were really going to sign up? Of course, the truth is that the networks aren't that scared of Aereo itself, but if what they're doing is shown to be legal, others might follow. Others like... the big cable companies. Like Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner Cable's CEO, Glenn Britt, just admitted that they're watching the Aereo case closely, and might offer an Aereo-like service themselves, if Aereo continues to win its lawsuit.
“What Aereo is doing to bring broadcast signals to its customers is interesting,” Time Warner Cable chief executive Glenn Britt said in an interview with The Washington Post. “If it is found legal, we could conceivably use similar technology.”
There's a lot more behind the scenes here. Britt is posturing, in part, because every few months or so we see yet another flare up between the networks and various cable providers over how much the cable guys need to pay to retransmit the networks over their wires. If you have a TV service, you've probably lived through one of these fights, where you're told you might lose (and sometimes actually do) a popular channel for a while if the company doesn't come to its senses. Those fees have gone up and up and up and are a big part of why cable bills are so ridiculously high these days.

What Britt is now saying is that if Aereo is found to be legal, TWC would seriously consider offering their customers a similar service and then they could tell the networks to get lost the next time they demand a crazy amount to be included. This is why the networks are so freaked out about Aereo. They're not so concerned about that one company, but that the cable companies will finally realize they've been paying ridiculous sums of money to rebroadcast those channels, when they might be able to deliver the same content, legally, online for free.

Filed Under: cable, glenn britt, retransmission
Companies: aereo, time warner

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2013 @ 6:40am

    Re: but wait...

    Time Warner Cable already had a service like that for tablet users where you could actually log in using your assigned e-mail service and watch the channels according to the packages you have at home...you could log in at any time to it even if it were at a non Time Warner serviced area. ClearChannel Media II (owns Fox) put a stop to that.

    Now what Aero is doing is something rather interesting...they are using antennae to not only to pick up OTA signals...but they are also using them to retransmit those signals to other users. This is sort of cool because the more users they have in the region...the more people can watch. It's like a peer 2 peer DLNA service
    :-) The beauty of this is that as far as the FCC is concerned, retransmission is completely legal without liscensing as long as they don't interfere with the actual broadcast signals...since they augment OTA signals without interference (as Aero uses boxes to pick up and retransmit them) it is perfect for the use of recording the signal.

    Given Time Warner already has the ability to deploy that system to users, it could revolutionize how we connect with our cable modems. I mean could you imagine if Aero's system was deployed as an ISP as well? I'm sure that is what Time Warmer really thought about but the possibility is there.

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