NFL, MLB Threaten To Ditch Broadcast If Aereo Wins In Court

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In the never-ending court battle between Aereo and major network broadcasters seeking to have Aereo shut down, the NFL and MLB are chiming in on the matter.

According to ATD, the MLB and NFL are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against Aereo, threatening to move their programming from free broadcast channels to paid cable networks like ESPN.

This isn’t the first time that Aereo opponents have made threats. NewsCorp said in April that it would be forced to pull its programming from broadcast and offer it as paid content should Aereo remain in business.

The networks, including Fox, ABC, NBC, and others, believe Aereo is stealing and rebroadcasting their content without permission. Aereo’s technology lets users rent out remote antenna/DVR systems to provide access to free over-the-air signals, similar to the way rabbit ears work.

Based on precedents set by a Cablevision case with regards to recording and replaying individual copies of content remotely, Aereo operates within the law thus far, winning earlier rulings in New York and Boston courts. In fact, it’s entirely probable that Aereo was developed with the Cablevision precedent in mind.

Still, the media industry is digging in and ferociously clutching the current system, with outdated UIs and overpriced content bundles. Though the leagues are openly threatening to back away from broadcast, it seems they have a nine-year agreement in the works that stretches through the 2022 season, including ABC, Fox, and CBS.

Of course, Aereo’s legality is ultimately up to the courts, as are the leagues’ abilities to back out of previous agreements with broadcasters.