Time Warner Cable vs. CBS, and Aereo: Retransmission Warfare

By Bob Wallace August 06, 2013

Content owners want higher prices; distributors struggle to contain programming costs. Impasses lead to channels going dark with consumers the losers. But what if these Mexican standoffs opened opportunities for companies not staring each other down in corporate boardrooms?

When Time Warner Cable customers lost CBS and Showtime, there was more than just consumer eye-rolling, at least in New York City, where Tiger Woods cleaned house in a golf match in front of one of his tiniest Big Apple viewing audiences ever.


Image via Shutterstock

Big Problem, Big Opportunity

In this case, one viewer’s nightmare was another’s dream come true. One alternative had taken root and provided coverage of the golf event in the name primarily of online TV service Aereo, which delivers broadcasters’ over-the-air signals to viewers on the Web for $8 a month.

Since Aereo doesn’t compensate the signal transmitters, its re-transmission battles have been faced off in the courts, and to date winning, against the nation’s largest broadcast networks. Whether the company prevails – and whether the networks move their programming from over-the-air to cable as a result – remains to be seen.

What can be seen, for now however, is broadcast network programming in the NYC, Boston and Atlanta major metro areas, with Chicagoland on deck along with more than a dozen U.S. cities, on the Aereo launch list.

Bottom Line

Everyone love’s a David and Goliath story, which Aereo versus the entrenched broadcaster’s saga seems to be. The streamed service upstart may win the week or month in NYC, and enjoy the TV spotlight…for now.

Entrenched powers have an impressive record of stepping on innovative competitive upstarts over the decades, be it the auto industry, oil and gas and tech, for starters. Aereo’s time in the spotlight will only increase broadcasters thirst to make them a footnote, not a factor, in TV history.

Only time and court cases will tell if Aereo is the disruptor or the disrupted.

Get up to speed on Aereo through past features:

And, as always, stay tuned!




Edited by Alisen Downey

VP of Content

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