Many look at web TV again following high court decision on Aereo

By RYAN NAKASHIMA, Associated Press Published: June 27, 2014
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The Supreme Court shot down Aereo’s business model this week, but that doesn’t mean customers’ desire for a better TV experience is gone.

Americans are still fed up with huge channel bundles, high prices, poor service and the lack of ability to watch all their shows on all their devices. That’s part of why Aereo was attractive: It offered a few dozen local broadcast channels and the Bloomberg TV financial channel on multiple devices for just $8 a month.

Industry watchers say the pay-TV business must continue to evolve to win over unhappy customers, even if the nation’s top court said grabbing signals from the airwaves and distributing them online without content-owner permission isn’t the way.

“Even without Aereo, the reason people were cutting the cord, for cost reasons and so on, those don’t go away,” said Robin Flynn, an analyst with market research firm SNL Kagan.

Last year, the number of pay-TV subscribers in the U.S. fell for the first time, dipping 0.1 percent to 94.6 million, according to Leichtman Research Group.

SNL Kagan estimates that 5 percent of homes will substitute pay TV with one or more Internet video services by the end of the year, rising to 10 percent in 2017.

Many companies are offering quality TV content online for low cost to meet that rising demand. They include Netflix and Amazon. Hulu, which is owned by major broadcast networks ABC, NBC and Fox, offers full episodes of popular shows like “The Colbert Report” the next day for free.

While that’s not live TV, which Aereo offered, for many it’s a good-enough substitute.

The decision against Aereo is a setback, but not a fatal one for people who want to break away from traditional TV, said Bill Niemeyer, senior analyst at TDG Research.

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