Could Aereo disrupt the mainstream cable television industry?

Robbie Citrino, Kapitall: Aereo, a young video streaming service, is taking on the America's largest cable networks in court to fight for cheaper, more accessible live television.

Aereo is a small streaming service that picks up major networks’ live TV stream and beams it to your phone, tablet, or computer. The company has spurred controversy and lawsuits after throwing a wrench into the business model of the nations largest cable TV networks.

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Behemoths such as News Corp. (NWSA), Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), Walt Disney Co.(DIS), and CBS Corp. (CBS), worried about the potential for devastating loss in advertising revenue, have challenged the company in court. Now investors, along with the rest of the American population, wait for the Supreme Court to return their verdict on the legality of its actions.

If Aereo’s right to rebroadcast airwaves from the top networks is upheld, it could allow millions access to live TV for a fraction of their current bill. An Aereo success would also usher in a new era where major cable networks no longer reign supreme, having been toppled by an infant company started just two years ago. Overnight, a positive ruling would turn this startup with $34 million in funding into a viable business that could operate on the scale of Netflix Inc. (NFLX) or Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC).

However, if the company fails to overcome its competitors and its business model is labeled copyright infringement, the American consumer will be stuck at the mercy of networks and cable providers until another possible savior arises.

In the meantime, as the battle continues and the networks throw their billions at the lawsuit to be revealed in June, we must wait to see if Aereo can indeed defeat Goliath. 

Click on the interactive chart below to view data over time.

1. News Corp. ( NWSA): Operates as a diversified media company worldwide. Market cap at $10.39B, most recent closing price at $17.94.

 

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