With the U.S. Supreme Court set to make a fateful decision on their ongoing battle over content rights, SVOD service Aereo and the broadcast networks are reportedly both considering their options in the event the ruling doesn't go their way.
Kanojia (Image source: Aereo)
Speaking to Fortune, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia said he's optimistic that his company will receive a favorable decision from the High Court, which is expected to rule on Aereo's case by June 30. Kanojia, who already made a considerable fortune selling his previous startup, Navic Networks, to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) in 2008, has notably resisted speaking of a "plan B" while attracting nearly $100 million in Aereo investment over the last two years.
The conventional wisdom among technology watchers is that if Aereo can't practice the home-run business model of delivering free-to-air broadcast signals via SVOD streams without paying for the content, it wouldn't be settling for "singles," i.e. reinventing itself into a business that supports the traditional broadcast TV industry and has smaller goals.
However, Kanojia told Fortune that, in the event of the plaintiff's favorable ruling, he's at least willing to consider paying broadcasters for the right to retransmit their signals.
UPDATE: Aereo reached out to FierceCable late Tuesday, clarifying what it felt was a misinterpretation by Fortune of Kanojia's comments. An Aereo spokesperson stated that the company is not an MVPD and is not subject to retransmission fees under current laws.
Moving further into less disputed portions of Fortune's interview, with one analyst pegging Aereo's chances of prevailing in the High Court at only around 30 percent, Kanojia said he believes that the media and investment community have been lacking key context when analyzing the transcripts from April's Supreme Court hearings on the Aereo matter. The general consensus among those who weren't in the room is that the Justices tended to side with the plaintiffs.
"I'm obviously biased, but I felt a bit like I watched something different than a lot of [reporters] did," Kanojia told Fortune.
The broadcast networks, meanwhile, are prepping their own contingencies. According to the Los Angeles Times, beyond the option of moving their networks over to the pay-TV side of the fence, broadcasters might also approach the Federal Communications Commission in hopes of regulating Aereo into paying retransmission fees.
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