DILLER: AEREO COMING TO ALL MAJOR CITIES BY NEXT YEAR
Given at least a temporary go-ahead by a federal judge on Wednesday, Barry Diller says he is planning to expand his Aereo streaming service to most of the largest U.S. cities by the end of next year. In an interview with Bloomberg Television conducted at the Allen & Co. annual gathering (commonly referred to as the Millionaire’s Retreat) in Sun Valley, ID, Diller remarked, “We’re going to really start marketing.” Presently the service is only available in the New York area and has not been intensely marketed pending the court’s decision, which this week knocked down a demand by broadcasters for a temporary injunction. They have sued Diller for copyright infringement, but most analysts believe it may take years before their suit can come to trial, and Aereo could establish a national foothold by that time. Aereo employs a bank of tiny antennas that pick up broadcast signals and relay them to individual subscribers on their home computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. The service costs $12 a month, although New Yorkers have been receiving it free during the start up phase. Meanwhile, Broadcasting and Cable magazine commented on Thursday that cable operators are rooting for Aereo because they see it “as potentially ending the current retransmission-consent regime.” And Reuters quoted Liberty Media Chairman John Malone as saying, “Good for Barry. I love the concept because it will ultimately defang broadcast retransmission, which I always thought was one of the worst decisions of the government. It gave way too much power to the broadcast network owners.” Until relatively recently, the operators carried the broadcast networks for free, but nowadays the broadcasters have been demanding ever larger fees from the cable companies. Malone noted, however, that Aereo can only work with over-the-air signals, and, he said, he suspects that if they lose the broadcasters will pull their most popular programs off the air and put them on cable instead.