Hey, you with the messy hair and Ray-Bans: aren’t you so excited about McCarren Park Pool reopening after 28 years? So is TV streaming service Aereo, which is offering 28 one-year subscriptions in celebration of the occasion. All you have to do is follow @AereoTV, tweet at @AereoTV with the hashtag #aereobythepool.
At first glance, the contest’s flyer is a little confusing. Are they offering a 28-year subscription, we wondered? Luckily the official rules shed some light on that question: “Twenty-eight (28) one-year memberships to Promotion Sponsor’s membership platform will be given away as prizes to the first twenty-eight (28) eligible entrants.”
Phew, we thought a 28-year subscription was a little too hubris-heavy for our fast-moving technological society. We’re sure we’ll be fully entrenched in the Singularity by 2040 anyway, with TVs embedded into contact lenses.
Last time we checked there were only 15 entrants, so tweet your hearts out, TV lovers!
Over The Aereo
A ruling is expected this afternoon in a lawsuit against Aereo, a potentially disruptive service that allows customers to stream broadcast television content without anyone, customers or Aereo, paying fees to broadcasters. The company is backed by more than $20 million from investors, including Barry Diller of IAC, who may be getting a little nervous: Today a Fox executive basically accused Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia of lying in court.
Internet Wants to Be Free
Sometime in the mid-nineties, my dad got an AOL account. Roughly two seconds after that, I fell down the rabbit hole of anonymous chat rooms and never quite got out–that is when I wasn’t getting the deadly, dreaded dial-up busy signal. AOL charged by the hour back then. Until the service switched to a flat monthly rate in October, 1996, the clock was always ticking, forcing you to make the Sophie’s Choice of where to spend your time online.
Now it seems the industry is heading back in that direction. Not by-the-hour, mind you, but a usage-based pricing model that would prompt viewers to consider whether, say, spending the weekend watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix is really worth it. (Answer: Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.)
The sun was still setting when The Observer rounded the corner under The High Line for IAC’s Internet Week closing party, co-hosted by Aereo, a provocative new startup that will allow users to view broadcast content on their computers, smartphones and tablets. Off the drab West Side Highway, the Frank Gehry-designed building shimmered like a landing dock for a space ship–as if the top could twist off and whir its way into the atmosphere. Will Arnett and Wilmer Valderrama walked the red carpet. Dolled-up in pale pink, Allison Williams (the Miranda to Lena Dunham’s Carrie) took Barry Diller’s elbow as she navigated the crowd.
As the origin myth has it, Mr. Diller’s transformation from a Hollywood mogul to Internet soothsayer for this new digital era started with an Apple PowerBook. “No question that his relationship with his little screen, which is irritating to everybody in the room, has altered his life,” his closest confidante and now wife Diane von Furstenberg told The New Yorker some years back.
It was the early ’90s—right around the time Rupert Murdoch refused to make Mr. Diller a principal at Fox, the fabled fourth network Mr. Diller pioneered when competitors insisted that three would do just fine.
Hey, look: The cable companies all went in together to get something nice for you. The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast, Time Warner, Cable Vision, Bright House, and Cox are banding together and opening their Wifi hotspots to each other’s customers. That means more than 50,000 hotspots around New York, Los Angeles, Tampa, Orlando and Philadelphia. Nor will users have to remember umpteen different brand names; providers will now take the marvelously generic ”CableWiFi” as their network name.
Over The Aereo
The Aereo legal saga continues. Not content to wait for a decision regarding their ongoing lawsuit, the Hollywood Reporter reports that broadcasters want a preliminary injunction against Aereo and they want it now. That means they have to prove “a likelihood of success and the prospect of irreparable injury.” The tone of the legal proceedings, therefore, have taken on something of an apocalyptic cast.
Their argument goes that the company’s mere existence is enough to threaten broadcasters’ business model. From the tone of statements earlier this week, they’re about ready to go looking for Aereo’s plug if the judge doesn’t do something, anything, to take care of this. If Aereo gets away with their over-the-air workaround, cable and satellite distributors won’t be so willing to shell out for retransmission rights. And that means television may never be the same again. They do understand that sounds like a good thing, right?
I Want My Free TV
The days of Saturday Night Live as cheapo Sunday morning hangover cure may be coming to a close. The New York Post reports that Hulu is getting ready to upend its current business model and require users to login with their cable or satellite account numbers. If you don’t have a cable or satellite account and therefore you don’t have a number, well, tough cookie.
Sources tell the Post that Hulu plans to transition to an authentication model, meaning access to content will be predicated upon some sort of subscription. Those same sources point to the shift as the reason for Providence Equity Partners unloading its stake for $200 million.
IAC/InterActive Corp chairman Barry Diller testified before the Senate Commerce Committee today about the future of online video. We can’t believe someone thought this was a legitimate question in the era of Netflix and Hulu, but the hearing was actually called ”The Emergence of Online Video: Is it the Future?” Then we remembered who was asking.
“Incumbents have the means and incentives to engage in economic and/or technical discrimination against online video distributors,” Mr. Diller told lawmakers, referring to our cable and broadband overlords. To level the playing field, he said, “I think you need to rewrite the [Telecommunications] Act of ’96. It’s overdue given the Internet. And it needs revision.” Congress, he added, should “prevent cable and telecommunications companies from leveraging their dominance in existing markets” to control emerging technologies.
A new TV Everywhere-oriented start-up, NimbleTV, begins beta-testing its service in New York City on Monday. One question about this new bid to give TV junkies an easy, anytime fix is will they be sued like Aereo? After all, as Brian Stelter reports in his Times article about NimbleTV, the services have a few similarities:
This is just what Aereo needs, in addition to their legal hurdles: A competitor that’s already lined its licensing ducks all up in a row, nice and neat.
Here’s the deal: A $12/month Aereo subscription buys you access to a remote antenna, which replaces old-fashioned rabbit ears. You get ABC, NBC, Read More