Pando

Aereo admits defeat, files for bankruptcy

By Nathaniel Mott , written on November 21, 2014

From The News Desk

Aereo seems to have finally accepted its demise.

The company announced today that it has filed for bankruptcy to "maximize the value of its business and assets without the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn out litigation in several courts." The absurd tale is over.

It's taken a while for Aereo to admit defeat. The company fought to survive after the Supreme Court ruled in June that its service was violating the Copyright Act of 1976 because it acted like a cable company. It struggled to continue after the US Copyright Office refused to grant it the compulsory licenses it needed because it wasn't a cable company in July. Somehow it even tried to stay alive after a judge granted a temporary restraining order against its service in October.

But for all of the company's struggles against the courts -- and the cable companies that keep invoking them -- its worst battle has been one to explain why exactly consumers should use it.

At no point was that more evident than when Aereo sought to garner consumer support ahead of the Supreme Court's decision by arguing that its death would represent a greater threat to innovation than many people might think. It's clear that the effort, called Protect My Antenna, wasn't quite enough to convince the Supreme Court that Aereo should be able to keep kicking.

Aereo just wasn't worth saving. It took free transmissions and asked people to pay for them so they could watch them online, but it only offered a limited selection of television shows. It was the worst of both worlds -- limited like a free product, but with a price tag. As former Pando contributor Farhad Manjoo explained in a blog post about the company way back in July 2012:

As a standalone service, Aereo makes no sense. Indeed, anyone who truly wishes for more common sense in the media business should root for Aereo’s failure, not its victory. Let’s never forget that this is a firm that will charge people a sky-high price for shows that we can all get for free. By perpetuating the idea that free television should be a service that we pay for—that merely rebroadcasting free television should incur some kind of convenience fee for customers—Aereo is cementing an indefensible policy.
Now, almost two-and-a-half-years later, Manjoo has been proven right. No-one rooted for Aereo, and it seems like the entirety of the judicial system was aligned against it. Aereo's done.