Billionaire backer confident Aereo Inc can get 35% share of U.S.

November 21
12:32 AM 2013

Barry Diller, the 71-year old billionaire backer of Aereo Inc, said the startup may get up to 35% of households in the US to subscribe to its online television service. That is, if Aereo Inc can win the lawsuits filed against it by broadcasters.

In a conference hosted by Bloomberg LP in Chicago, Diller said Aereo's USD 8 service is going to be preferred by those in their mid- to late-20s who don't want to pay USD 100 a month for cable TV subscriptions. Diller is the Chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, an Internet holding company.

Media companies like 21st Century Fox Inc and Walt Disney Co have filed lawsuit against Aereo, alleging that the startup has resold their contents without permission. They are calling it an illegal operation and have lodged their complaint with the US Supreme Court. Aereo, however, said it did not need to pay the broadcasters since the television signals were fairly received from their own clusters of antennas. Boston and New York federal judges have given the online television service permission to operate while the legal battle is going on.

According to the Aereo website, the service is currently available in Boston, New York, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Miami. Despite its legal troubles, Aereo is slated to spread to even more cities.

Diller said, "This closed circle of broadcast and cable and satellite is going to break up. It's not going to maintain itself in the next decade." He said that they are putting more money to the startup with the eventual goal of making the service available across the US.

Aereo received support from US Senator Jay Rockefeller who introduced legislation on November 12 that would enable online video services to challenge cable providers and networks. Rockefeller said his bill would benefit consumers by giving them the chance to pay only for the programs that they actually watch. 

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