There has been a lot of news lately over Net Neutrality ending and Aereo going to the Supreme Court. Both of these issues revolve over one group of people who are fed up with paying for stuff, the cord cutters. Cord Cutters are people who end their subscriptions to cable and only get high-speed internet to stream their favorite shows. These people get Netflix, Hulu Plus, Roku, and even Aereo, and only depend on their high-speed internet and an antenna to get their shows. The cable companies are losing subscribers and are trying to do anything to reverse this trend. And if the cable companies get their way, soon we will be forced to get cable to watch our favorite shows, whatever we like it or not.
Let’s start with Aereo going to the Supreme Court. This Spring, Aereo and ABC will plead their case in front of the justices. The case which is called ABC, Inc., et al. v. Aereo, Inc. will determine the future of broadcast TV as we know it. Aereo is a service where tiny digital antennas are placed in various major cities around the country. The service allows users to watch their local stations via the internet and even record their favorite shows to watch at any time. As soon as the service launched, broadcasters immediately sued Aereo claiming the streaming of television content violates copyright laws.
Also in conflict, is live sports programming on the broadcast networks like the NFL and MLB. People with Aereo can stream their games for free over the internet from anywhere in the world. Which causes conflicts with TV Blackouts, and ad revenue. If Aereo wins this case, the sports leagues have said they might move to cable. Which means a lost to cord cutters, and for cable subscribers, in the form of extra fees. And think about this, if Aereo wins, cable and satellite companies could stop paying fees to the local TV stations for carrying their channels, and just use the Aereo service model instead. This means during severe weather outbreaks in Alabama for example, you might no longer see coverage on TV. Because the local TV stations might cease to exist.
So what happens if Aereo wins their case? With no more court challenges, Aereo will expand quickly. And the broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and others will be left with a burning question. Do they pull off broadcast TV and go to cable, leaving broadcast TV stations high and dry? If the major networks leave Broadcast TV and go to cable, many local TV stations will simply close down. Why, because without good programming, they can’t make ad revenue. This means no more James Spann on our TV screens during tornado outbreaks, unless he moves everything online.
If the broadcast networks win the Supreme Court Case, Aereo will be forced to pay a lot of money and close down. And the executives up in New York City will pop open the bubbly and celebrate! Because the networks will not lose any more ad revenue. And people will be forced to hook up an actual antenna or subscribe to cable, to watch their favorite shows. Which equals subscriber fees coming into their coffers. The broadcast networks prefer to keep everything the same, without things changing, and they hope The Supreme Court will rule in their favor. So this Supreme Court case will be interesting to watch, all cord cutters are hoping Aereo wins this case.
Also in the tech realm, is Net Neutrality. Since the 1970’s, providers like AT&T and others have been barred from blocking or degrading whatever is transported over their lines. But with the recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit, Net Neutrality is dead, at least for now. This means all internet providers can do whatever it likes to content moving across their networks. If it wants, it can make a blog (like Geek Alabama) that criticized its latest policies unreachable, or block customer support of rival companies, or destroy Netflix by slowing its data to a crawl, making movies impossible to watch.
The end of Net Neutrality is also bad for all bloggers and small business owners on the web. Companies like Amazon.com will be able to pay big bucks to internet providers to make sure their website loads fast and is reachable. For small businesses and bloggers who mostly don’t have a lot of money, too bad! The internet companies could slow you down to a crawl and make you suffer. And websites like Google and Facebook could even force internet companies to pay them, or block their websites from that internet provider. Just like what you see with the cable TV providers.
This is really what is going to happen if Net Neutrality does not come back. And it mostly involves you, the cord cutters. Cable and telephone companies will force streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, and others to pay extra to provide their websites to their internet customers. When that happens, Netflix, Hulu, and the other streaming websites will be forced to pass along the costs to their customers. So in theory, the cord cutters will soon be paying the same amounts to Netflix and Hulu, as if they were paying for cable. It could even get to the point where subscribing to cable could be cheaper than cutting the cord!
With Aereo and Net Neutrality, the big issue is getting people to watch those pesky commercials and pay those extremely high fees so the TV providers and networks can make even more money. And this is where people get fed up. People are getting tired of paying for higher bills to watch their favorite TV shows and movies. If Aereo is forced to close down, and Net Neutrality forces Netflix and Hulu to charge more for their services, people will find a way to watch their favorite shows, by any means necessary. If that means pirate torrents are the ways for people to watch their shows, then that will be the way. People are clever, and they will gladly take advantage of Hollywood and companies so they don’t have to pay more money!
I believe Net Neutrality is going to be coming back before the internet providers get their ways. Either the FCC or Congress will pass rules or legislation to stop internet providers from being picky. If that does not happen, you will see the internet rise up, like the recent SOPA protests. And may websites, including Geek Alabama, will go dark to protest the end of Net Neutrality. It will happen, and I think the internet will win once again!