The chances of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of SVOD service Aereo in its battle with broadcasters hover at around 30 percent, according to Wells Fargo Securities' Marci Ryvicker, who outlined what she believes investors should expect from the pending court ruling Thursday.
Aereo, which streams broadcast signals to subscribers using a system of individualized, cloud-based antennas, went into April 22's SCOTUS oral arguments with 50-50 odds in Ryvicker's view. But stringent grilling from the Justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, have cast doubt, at least on Wall Street, about Aereo gaining a favorable ruling.
"Your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don't want to comply with," Roberts told Aereo attorney David Frederick.
As Ryvicker noted to investors Thursday, however, "There is never a guarantee when it comes to litigation."
So what does Ryvicker think would happen if Aereo were to surprisingly come out on the right side of the High Court decision, which is expected to be announced by the end of June?
Broadcasters would certainly lose leverage to demand retransmission fees from pay TV companies, but the immediate impact would be marginal, she believes. The market impact on media conglomerates with broadcast TV divisions and publicly broadcast stations groups might be significant, with investor over-reaction dropping broadcast company stock prices by as much as 20 percent in the near term, Ryvicker predicts.
Ryvicker does not believe broadcast companies like CBS would see their stock prices hindered too long, however. "CBS can pursue its option to go straight to cable or figure out some sort of other business model that would lessen any potential long term impact of Aereo," Ryvicker adds.
Conversely, she also notes, if Aereo is to lose as expected, broadcast company stock prices could rise as much as 12 percent in the immediate aftermath.
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