Yesterday we told you Fox was so pissed Aereo was, uh, helping people watch its television shows that it was going to take its ball and go home. Apparently if Aereo doesn’t knock it off, CBS is just going to straight up shut down its broadcast signal in the New York City area.
Fox got a lot of support from the other broadcast networks for the idea of screwing over poor people and becoming just another cable network. But apparently Leslie Moonves, head of CBS, has gone well beyond just talking about it and is seriously considering taking CBS all-cable:
CBS has already had some exploratory talks with cable operators about taking its local station signals off the air. “For now, we’re talking about the New York-Connecticut area,” Mr. Moonves said, because that’s the only area where Aereo now operates. He emphasized that he does not want to go down that path, and said, “Frankly, we don’t think it will get to that point.”
Oh? Wanna bet?
Short of Congress changing the rules, it’s hard to see Aereo losing in court, at least based on the law. The fundamental problem is that Aereo is technically nothing more than an antenna rental service; any Aereo user just rents an antenna, watches whatever they can tune in, and uses a cloud-based DVR to record shows if they have a subscription. There’s also the fact that they’re giving all of this stuff away for free, a point that nobody at the networks seems to realize seriously dings most of their arguments.
Also, one suspects that the networks are afraid of Aereo really catching on and starting to offer detailed reports of who’s watching what. CBS in particular may have a lot to lose if we step away from the Nielsen standard of 25,000 households telling the rest of us what to watch.
We’ll track this court case: How it unwinds might change how we watch TV for good.