Home Broadcast TV Streamer Aereo Officially Has One Foot In The Grave

Broadcast TV Streamer Aereo Officially Has One Foot In The Grave

After fighting the good fight to bring over-the-air TV to online streaming, the battle-weary Aereo has shuttered its doors. As of November 12, the Boston-based startup will close up shop and lay off its employees, the company announced. [Update: Apparently the company will let go of several employees, but not entirely shutter operations—yet. See below.]

The Supreme Court delivered the death knell to Aereo back in June with a ruling that found its service illegally rebroadcast over-the-air television programming. In a letter to employees, the company wrote, “It is now clear, that at this time we are unable to obtain additional funding that would prevent the need to close our operations.”

See also: Aereo Loses At The Supreme Court In Landmark Tech Copyright Case

Aereo had waged a long David-versus-Goliath courtroom fight with cable operators and broadcasters. Armed with fields of tiny antennae, the company illegally “pilfered” airborne television signals, they claimed, and made money off the programming through online subscription services. The startup reveled in its self-appointed role as agitator of the all-too-complacent TV industry, obsessed with squashing any threats to its high-priced cable or satellite television packages.

Until, that is, the Supremes squashed Aereo itself with a narrow and still controversial reading of copyright law.

Aereo, of course, was part of a larger trend toward cord-cutting, in which viewers ditch their cable or satellite subscriptions in favor of streaming programming over the Internet. Several studios have recently started offering their shows for streaming, most notably HBO, which finally agreed to let people subscribe to its HBO Go streaming service even if they don’t have a cable subscription.

See also: HBO Will Finally Give Cord-Cutters The Streaming They Crave

Now Showtime has just joined HBO and CBS with plans to offer streaming-only subscriptions as alternatives to cable and satellite subs. Aereo’s demise may be imminent, but the great unbundling of traditional TV has only just begun.

The document Aereo sent to the State of Massachusetts to confirm the close of its operations follows:

Update 11/6/2014: Aereo Vice President Virginia Lam told GigaOm the company’s not completely shutting down after all, though it will have to make some deep cuts to its 53-person staff:  

“In an effort to reduce costs, we made the difficult decision to lay off some of our staff in Boston and New York,” she wrote in an email to the tech site. “We are continuing to conserve resources while we chart our path forward. We are grateful to our employees for their loyalty, hard work and dedication. This was a difficult, but necessary step in order to preserve the company. We decline to comment further.”

Images courtesy of Aereo

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