Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

NFL, MLB Tell Supreme Court: If Aereo Wins, We’re Bailing on Broadcast

Programmers that are fighting with Aereo, the Web TV service, have already threatened to move their shows from free broadcast TV to paid cable TV if Aereo wins its court battle.

Now the guys that sell sports are chiming in. If Aereo wins, say goodbye to Saturday night baseball or Sunday afternoon football on broadcast TV, said Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

The sports leagues lobbed a “friend of the court” brief to the Supreme Court last week, asking the court to take up the case, which pits broadcast station owners and programmers against Aereo, the IAC-backed startup that distributes broadcast signals over the Web, but doesn’t pay for them.

The leagues, of course, want the court to rule against Aereo. If it doesn’t, “the option for copyright holders will be to move that content to paid cable networks (such as ESPN and TNT) where Aereo-like services cannot hijack and exploit their programming without authorization,” the MLB and NFL’s lawyers wrote.

It’s unclear just how fast the leagues could unwind their programming deals with broadcasters in the event of an Aereo victory — and whether lawmakers would let them.

On the other hand, the threat isn’t completely idle, since Big Time Sports have already been moving from broadcast to cable for years. For instance: If you want to watch the Patriots and the Panthers tonight, you’ll need to be in front of a TV (or tablet) connected to ESPN.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work