Many seemed to think so today after a U.S. Appeals Court ruled that Aereo’s streaming service can stay in business while the company defends itself against a suit by broadcasters who say that it violates their copyrights. Broadcasters were among media’s big losers on Wall Street today; for example CBS was -2.2%, Gannett was -3%, and Sinclair was -3.7%. If the courts uphold Aereo’s right to retransmit over-the-air signals without paying stations, then it could derail broadcasters’ hopes of collecting billions each year from pay TV retransmission consent fees. That’s possible, BTIG’s Richard Greenfield says: Today’s decision should cause the major networks to “accept Aereo’s legality and figure out how to deal with the implications to their business.” Considering the scope of the reasoning in the verdict, it’s “difficult to imagine how the broadcasters stand a chance of winning at trial in the District Court later this year or even how they could appeal a District Court loss to this Appellate Court.” As a result, he expects Aereo to accelerate its expansion plans — the service is up in NYC and plans to launch in 22 additional markets this year. (It tweeted last week that a Boston service will come “very, very soon.”) The analyst also says cable and satellite companies likely will now feel emboldened to resist broadcasters’ demands for high fees for their must-have programming while cable networks “look to license content to Aereo.”
Alki David, whose FilmOn offers an Aereo-like streaming service in 35 markets, says he recognizes the potential opportunities that the court ruling creates. He congratulated Aereo for the “hugely significant win.” He adds that “the upside to this business is huge” and goes far beyond Aereo’s business model based on the “old dream of subscription” from rented antennas.
But Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker urges broadcast company investors not to panic. “In our view, this is going to be a longterm battle,” she says. Broadcasters won copyright infringement suits against FilmOn and Ivi and still “believe they will ultimately prevail and that Aereo will be shut down.” Although she acknowledges that the case “could have implications longer term,” she says the Appeals Court ruling was expected and that the “fundamentals of retransmission consent are intact for the next several years.”