back to article That's all folks! US TV streaming upstart Aereo files for bankrupcy

It's the end of the line for the TV streaming biz Aereo: it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and appointed a chief restructuring officer to extract some remaining value from its assets. "Our engineering team created the first cloud-based, individual antenna and DVR that enabled you to record and watch live …

  1. swschrad

    did anybody get their tiny antenna back before bankruptcy?

    you know, the one you bought, the size of a stamp? if so, now you can test the technology in your own home!

    if not, then it was the "special sauce" which is approximated by the Slingbox.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: did anybody get their tiny antenna back before bankruptcy?

      I don't think Aereo ever said you "owned" a particular antenna, just that one was dedicated to your use while you were using it.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: did anybody get their tiny antenna back before bankruptcy?

        I am not even sure that those antenna things actually worked or were just a smokescreen to justify the "one antenna per childcustomer" rule mandated by The Man.

        1. unitron
          Boffin

          Re: did anybody get their tiny antenna back before bankruptcy?

          Yes, they did work, because Aereo did something very clever.

          One of those antennas by itself might not have worked all that well, but by putting them in an array, the individual elements combined via inductive and capacitive coupling to work as one big antenna, yet each little element produced its own output, so it was one element per customer, therefore it was "individual antennas".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: did anybody get their tiny antenna back before bankruptcy?

            @unitron

            Is that true, or did you just make it up?

  2. Barry Rueger

    Old School Version

    Somewhere around 1978, in the age when 8-track tape was king, I worked for a stereo store that had as a sideline, a "service" that allowed people to make one off "personal copies" of commercial tapes.

    We had a high speed duplicator, and blank cartridges of various lengths, and a library of popular tapes, and would even set up the original and blank on the machine for you.

    The claim was that as long as the customer pushed the big "Start" button, it was legal.

    Then there were the legions of people in the 90s who argued with great vigor that copyright and other laws "don't apply to the Internet."

    Face it folks, just because you think your scheme to game the system if cool doesn't give you a get out of jail free card.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Old School Version

      Sounds just like our present day store front wine making services.

      At the start of each batch, there is a ceremonial handing of the open yeast packet to the client who then tips it into the bucket of grape jjuice. This little ceremony makes it legal to manufacture wine outside the home, with just some assistance from the staff.

      $5/bottle for really really really nice wines. Without the fuss of doing it at home.

  3. Christian Berger

    They should have done it differently

    Simply sell "housing" for your servers which not just includes power and cooling, but also terrestrial reception. Then set up a separate company which offers ATSC terrestrial receivers which are able to stream, either for sale or for rent.

    That way you'd have 2 completely legal businesses nobody would complain about. The fact that they marketed it as a service was the main problem.

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Re: They should have done it differently

      When you creep to the other side of the line, they'll just move the line.

  4. tin 2

    Indeed, much as the idea of Aereo was innovative and no doubt a valuable service to the people that used it, it was piracy of the TV companies' signals that it was selling. The test for this is easy: would anyone buy the service without being able to receive that content?

    However that is not to say the system in the US doesn't need fixing, just that it was pretty easy for the big TV providers to say this was not going to be the way.

    One thing really does strike me about Aereo's attitude though. That letter from Chet Kanojia bangs on about how the system needed fixing, and they are brilliant, and it was a great service that people loved, and the big TV companies are evil, and they have lots of support, and all that fight the good fight kind of stuff. But nowhere does it apologise to any of the customers for the inconvenience of having the service cut off. Perhaps they did before, but that shouts loud and clear to me.

    1. Christian Berger

      I think it all was mostly about their attitude. I mean they should have clarified what the difference between them and a cable company was.

      Cable companies pay the stations... and in return get part of the ad space! (in the US system)

      This company, at least the way it would have been legal, didn't pay the stations and didn't demand ad space.

      Maybe Aereo's plan was to eventually run their own ads or to sell their user data, otherwise they would have refuted the claims they are a cable company.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    TV even more irrelevant than somewhat earlier

    Meanwhile "Team Reg" toasts the demise of another pirate creative content stealer in the pub, listening to Taylor Swift.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Indeed, much as the idea of Aereo was innovative and no doubt a valuable service to the people that used it, it was piracy of the TV companies' signals that it was selling."

    Nonsense, there was no piracy involved whatsoever; it was taking over-the-air signals, that to remind you anyone in the area could receive over the air; and making those signals available on the person's device of choice.

    To be honest, I'm not surprised this service was shut down; however, I see it as really a disservice to both the TV viewing public and to the stations themselves (although they did not see it that way.) It sounds like the most common use of this service was to watch *live* TV (advertisements and all!) on devices that otherwise would be unable to receive TV at all. To me, this would be a win-win, increasing viewership of the station.

    As for the antenna... given the description, I have my doubts if it was actually functional or not as opposed to being an attempt to work around some outdated law or other; you can use an arbitrarily small antenna if your signal strength is pretty high. I know in my market, a postage stamp sized antenna would get zero stations, no matter what technological trickery you claim to use with it.

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Paperclip antennas - functional or legal decoration?

      The early pictures clearly showed the antenna cards racked and stacked horizontally deep in the bowels of what appeared to be a basement data center. Right next to all sorts of electrically noisy equipment. Also, there was no sign of preamplifiers or cabling. Everything presented at that time strongly suggested that they were pure fake.

      Later pictures showed that some were (then?) installed vertically behind a radome wall with direct line of sight to the transmitter site, such as the Empire State building. This clear shot to the signal at least opened up the slight possibility that they were actually doing something like what they claimed. But far from certain. And perhaps it was a Mark II version that was slightly less fake. Not sure.

      Maybe the next opportunity would be for somebody in the UK to stream BBC TV out to us here in the cold colony. It's not until we spend $100 A MONTH !!! on satellite TV do we reach the higher numbered channels that are not mind numbing crap.

  7. tin 2

    "Nonsense, there was no piracy involved whatsoever; it was taking over-the-air signals, that to remind you anyone in the area could receive over the air; and making those signals available on the person's device of choice"

    I tend to agree with you (and Aereo of course) until you add in the charging of the end user, and the return of $0 to the broadcasters.

    Again, was is the value of "renting" this little antenna to anyone *without* the over-the-air content? Nothing. I think that lands it firmly in the piracy definition.

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