Monday, June 30, 2014

Will The Demise Of Aereo Hurt Broadcasters?

An interesting article in re/code that argues that the shutdown of Aereo is actually bad news for broadcasters.  As the younger generation continues to spend more and more time on their mobile devices, they have made bigger stars of some You Tube celebrities than TV ones.  From Bethany Mota to PewDiePie, to many that my kids know of and I have no clue who they are.  Still, that is who my kids are watching and broadcast, especially linear broadcast becomes more and more irrelevant. 

As the article note, Aereo made broadcast more accessible to that streaming crowd and opened up accessibility to the cord cutters.  Without it, viewers have to either find new ways to access broadcast programming or continue to skip it for Netflix, Amazon Prime, You Tube and others.  And the broadcasters have lost access to the future generation of potential viewers.  It is over the long run then that broadcasters have more to worry about. 

Aereo was admonished for copyright infringement stemming from the rental of an antenna on a remote antenna farm.  Other companies are now trying new ways to skirt the ruling.  Rather than rent, the antenna needs to be purchased and installed in the home; a box attached to it, captures and transmits wirelessly to authorized devices.  Does ownership of equipment change the result?  Certainly, Slingbox has been doing similar capturing and streaming for some time now.

For now, Aereo has lost and the broadcasters believe they have won.  But as viewership shifts from wired to streaming, from linear to on demand, consumers will seek out shows from multiple devices at times that best suit them and on platforms that are easy to access and appeal to their interests.  Tomorrow's audience may simply not care what broadcasters are pitching on old technology.

A battle may be lost, but the war is certainly not over either.  Much can happen to reshift interest back to broadcast.  New technologies, new strategies, new content.  I have consistently argued that linear wins with live programming.  It hits a home run when it is available on every platform.  And there are many examples to justify it including The World Cup matches on ESPN and streamed online, NBC's Sound of Music, NFL Football, etc.  Once broadcasters truly embrace streaming of their content, their future will be much brighter.