Have you heard of Aereo? If you haven't, you're not alone. The company
was is a small startup that threatened to change the face of television distribution. Their business model was to "rent" users individual micro-antennas. From there, users could stream and record programming that is free over the air.
Aereo maintains that their service is not illegal due to the fact that they manage an individual antenna for each and every user of their service. In addition, since they only sell to people who live in cities where the company maintains the antennas, Aereo contended that it's simply a cloud version of what people could do on their own.
The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud. - Chet Kanojia, Founder and CEO of Aereo
Unfortunately for users of the service, last week the Supreme Court ruled that the company's offering falls under "rebroadcasting" and is thus illegal unless the company has deals in place with the various networks.
Today the founder and CEO of Aereo sent an email out thanking everyone for their support but saying that the company has "decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps." They're also refunding customers for the last month of service. The complete letter stated:
A little over three years ago, our team embarked on a journey to improve the consumer television experience, using technology to create a smart, cloud-based television antenna consumers could use to access live over the air broadcast television.
On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision in favor of Aereo, dealing a massive setback to consumers.
As a result of that decision, our case has been returned to the lower Court. We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps. You will be able to access your cloud-based antenna and DVR only until 11:30 a.m. ET today. All of our users will be refunded their last paid month. If you have questions about your account, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @AereoSupport.
The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud.
On behalf of the entire team at Aereo, thank you for the outpouring of support. It has been staggering and we are so grateful for your emails, Tweets and Facebook posts. Keep your voices loud and sign up for updates at ProtectMyAntenna.org - our journey is far from done.
It will be interesting to see if the company can reinvent themselves, but with no further legal options available, we, unfortunately, suspect they'll disappear.