CBS hates Aereo, a company that allows users to stream TV channels. Aereo charges for its service, but it doesn’t turn around and pay off any of the broadcast networks afterwards. That business plan has allowed some cord cutters to watch and DVR broadcast television without paying a dime to the networks who are sending out the signals.
Aereo has so far been winning the fight, and it has at least one head honcho ready to change his business model. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves says if Aereo wins, he’s ready to go online only – preventing Aereo from taking any of the company’s broadcast content, or to bring it into a cable-only offering. By turning to cable or the Internet, CBS would make it a lot harder for Aereo to take its content.
“If Aereo should work, if they should win, which we don’t think will happen, we can go OTT [over the top] with CBS,” Moonves argued, according to Reuters. Moonves probably recognizes that’s where the industry is basically headed anyway, however, and he could actually stand to beat other broadcast networks to the punch by making that move sooner rather than later.
For example, HBO recently said that it’s ready to take its service online only, once the market is ready for it, and that’s exactly what Moonves is considering. “If the government wants to give them permission to steal our signal, then we will come up with some other way to get them our content and still get paid for it,” Moonves argued, suggesting that CBS would be very open to a licensing deal. After all, getting more eyes on CBS content is the end-goal – but the company wants to get paid for it, too.
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia has long argued that all consumers have a right to broadcast media through an antenna. That’s a fair enough argument, but CBS and other broadcast providers argue it’s illegal that Aereo is charging for content that they broadcast, and also allowing consumers to DVR that content. Meanwhile, Aereo’s customers aren’t paying a dime to the broadcasters, which means they’re losing out on additional revenue. Kanojia has argued that his service is perfectly legal. The Supreme Court will decide next month whether or not that’s true.