Aereo Gets A Kick in the Ass(ets)

Sometimes the higher you rise, the further you fall.

Such is the case with Aereo Inc. , which wrapped up an auction of its assets for a disappointing sum of less than $2 million. The result fell far short of expectations and represents an appalling return on investment for a company that secured nearly $100 million in funding over its lifetime. (See Aereo Heads to Auction.)

At the conclusion of the auction, according to a court filing published by The Register, TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) walked away with the Aereo trademarks, domain names and customer lists for a total of $1 million. RPX Corp. paid $225,000 for Aereo's patents, and Alliance Technology Solutions, Inc. wrote a check for $320,000 for equipment leftovers.

Once a promising player in the over-the-top video market, Aereo has been effectively out of business since the US Supreme Court ruled against the company last June. (See Supreme Court Halts Aereo's Flight.)

However, the debate that Aereo sparked over the future of over-the-top video remains. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , for example, is now considering whether OTT providers should be defined as multichannel video programming distributors, which would give streaming video companies the right to negotiate network retransmission deals the same way that cable operators do today. (See Wheeler Gets Down With OTT.)

Want to know more about OTT video? Check out our OTT content channel on Light Reading.

The FCC also just passed its landmark net neutrality ruling. Although many of the implications of that decision are still unknown, the ruling does bring into question whether broadcasters have the right to block delivery of their content online based on deals with pay-TV providers.

Technically speaking, even if the FCC made that procedure illegal, it still wouldn't allow a company like Aereo to retransmit content over the web without programmer permission. But the discussion does get at the same central issue that Aereo addressed: whether TV that's free over the air should also be free on the web. (See 'Free' TV Model Under Threat.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

kq4ym 3/2/2015 | 10:56:01 AM
Re: Most precious asset At two cents on the dollar, the investors must be feeling kind of silly. But, it's all part of the larger tech gamble, to see just how far one can bend existing laws and regulations to get an entry into a new field with a new idea. You win sometime and you lose most of the time.
pcharles09 2/28/2015 | 5:14:37 PM
Re: Most precious asset @nasimson,

But they knew going into business that what they were doing is considered illegal. They were on borrowed time from the start. I personally wished it would've turned out differently but I'm surprised that anyone's caught off guard by the outcome.
Joe Stanganelli 2/28/2015 | 9:28:47 AM
Relationship? Net neutrality is one thing, but copyright issues are completely another.  There's not much relationship between the two concepts.
nasimson 2/28/2015 | 4:51:18 AM
Most precious asset Aero's most precious asset was its technology and business model. Its sad that these were termed illlegal by the Court. Other asset are not much valuable in isolation.
thebulk 2/27/2015 | 9:45:19 PM
Re: Relatively free I had thought the one to one anttenna to customer things was smart, and I was hopeful that it was going to allow them to get around some of the legal issues. Clearly I was wrong. 
SachinEE 2/27/2015 | 9:40:13 PM
Re: Relatively free It was a bad idea to pitch it like they did. 

Aereo stopped operating voluntarily shortly after the Supreme Court decision. Though it attempted various alternatives to resume streaming, the US Copyright Office deflected Aereo's initial attempt to operate under a different kind of copyright license, and a lower court issued an outright ban on Aereo's streaming-TV service.

Acknowledging that it had exhausted its viable routes to stay in business, Aereo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November. Aereo laid off most of its staff earlier that month, leaving just a small executive crew to manage its remaining operations.
SachinEE 2/27/2015 | 9:38:38 PM
Re: Relatively free @mendyk: In a victory to the broadcasters suing to shut down Aereo, the US Supreme Court ruled that the service was illegally retransmitting broadcast TV over the Internet. The court concluded that the streaming-TV service was fundamentally the same as a cable company but didn't pay broadcasters the same fees cable companies must, a violation of the Copyright Act. Wow. That has got to sting.
thebulk 2/27/2015 | 11:59:44 AM
Re: Relatively free I believe that was their model, sort of. I think what they were "selling" was the idea of better reception delivered via the internet. That was the point of their one-to-one antenna to customer ratio as I recall. Not a bad way to pitch it, but the legal system didnt see it that way. 
mendyk 2/27/2015 | 11:32:43 AM
Relatively free Mari -- I don't recall Aereo ever suggesting that over-the-air programming should be available for "free" over the Internet. What Aereo tried to do was capture that content at no cost and then sell access to its customers.
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