Kanojia says Aereo is a natural outgrowth of consumer frustration with having to pay a monthly pay-TV bill for scores of channels which are never watched. The music business was similarly turned on its head when file-sharing ripped the cover off the business model of packaging a bunch of songs few wanted to hear in order to sell an over-priced CD.

Speculation is rife that if Aereo continues to win in court and among Washington policymakers, the broadcasters will pull their most popular and expensive shows - sporting events high among them - from the free over-the-air spectrum and make them available only through pay-TV.

As for where this battle goes next, Kanojia declined to deliberate. But he didn't appear to be backing away.

"Broadcast is such an important aspect of the American fabric that somebody is going to reach these people," he said. "The argument, the name-calling, is just absurd."

As for that subscriber number, Kanojia used the cover that Aereo is a private company and therefore he's under no obligation to reveal such vital information.

This fight is still in the early rounds.

Written by Leon Lazaroff in New York

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