It will be interesting to see whether Aereo will be able to sell its intellectual property or antenna infrastructure – and who might buy it – now that the company has declared bankruptcy.
As Aereo chief Chuck Kanojia noted in a letter to customers on the company’s website, “Our engineering team created the first cloud-based, individual antenna and DVR that enabled you to record and watch live television on the device of your choice, all via the Internet. . . The enthusiasm we encountered was overwhelming.”
The Aereo Bankruptcy Question
Launched three years ago, Aereo was virtually forced into bankruptcy in July when the Supreme Court ruled that the company violated copyright law because it did not pay broadcasters or content providers for the content that it made available through its technology, which relied on tiny antennas – one per customer – that fed broadcast stations to customers over the Internet.
In August, the company made a last ditch effort to stay alive by seeking cable operator status – after previously arguing that it was a cable operator. Gaining that status might have enabled the company to continue to operate, although it likely would have had to increase its prices as that approach would have required the company to pay fees to content owners.
But according to Kanojia’s letter “Chapter 11 will permit Aereo to maximize the value of its business and assets without the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn out litigation in several courts.”
I would anticipate that Aereo’s technology will have sufficient appeal to someone that it will find a buyer for its assets. Broadcasters, for example, could use it as a means of improving coverage for people in their service areas with poor signal quality and as a means of giving those customers DVR functionality. And depending on the broadcasters’ deals with content providers, it also could be a way of providing TV Everywhere – the ability to watch television on devices such as smartphones and tablets.