Aereo: Supreme Court to Decide How You Watch Sports
Sometime this summer, American sports fans will discover what it's going to cost them to watch games from the comfort of anywhere except where those games are being played.
As stated, Aereo has indeed won in the lower courts. If it prevails in the nation's highest court, watch the scramble. Major networks -- supported by sports leagues -- will dash to Congress, demanding legislation that will negate the ruling. Tough to do. Meanwhile, look for virtually every form of programing to form its own Netflix-type channel.
For sports fans, the possibility that all gamecasts will become pay-per-view is very real.
While Aereo argues that events such as the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA and NHL finals, and college games will still draw advertisers for over-the-air networks, the hard fact is advertising revenues don't always cover the broadcast rights those networks must pay. The attraction of live sportscasts is they're used by the networks to promote their other programs. If those programs migrate exclusively to other streaming outlets, the incentive to pay huge rights fees for the sportscasts will diminish, if not dissipate entirely.
However, this may already be happening. Reliance on over-the-air broadcasts is quickly going the way of the dodo bird.
- One-sport channels like the NFL Network et al, gain viewers every year.
- YouTube channels are proliferating.
- Mid-market college conferences without cable-network contracts have gone to streaming their events.
And what about the casual viewer who wants to see a bit of every sport? Welcome to the 120 Sports digital video channel.
Technology has put the likes of blacksmiths and record stores out of business. It remains to be seen what the Aereo and digital streaming formats will mean to both the broadcast industry and consumers. With the Supreme Court now in deliberations, they may not need to wait much longer.