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TelevisionWe should all be paying attention to the Aereo TV case. Using antennas, the company delivers over-the-air broadcast channels to subscribers’ computers for $10 a month.

Broadcasters have sued. Judges have refused to issue an injunction stopping the Aereo service, which is not available in Rochester. Angered, Fox threatened to make its channel cable-only.

Poynter reports:

Aereo customers pay a monthly or annual subscription fee, based in part on how much digital storage space they’d like. Then, they’re assigned a tiny antenna – no cable box or any other equipment – that’s kept with all other antennas at an offsite location maintained by the company. That antenna allows subscribers to watch live broadcast television on their computer, and they can also save content to watch later.


Broadcasters are “concerned from a revenue standpoint,” said Mike Cavender, executive director for the Radio Television Digital News Association. They worry that online subscriptions to Aereo could cut down on cable subscriptions for the networks – and that could mean less advertising revenue and fewer advertising deals.

I think broadcasters will lose this fight, if not this particular battle. Tired of $100 a month cable bills, 5 million households have cut the cord. It’s a small fraction of U.S. households, but it’s growing. As iPads get cheaper and online video content gets better, people will turn away from their television sets.

A la carte television is coming. We will end up paying for only what we watch. It will be a major disruptive force for the entire television industry. It could directly affect my own job as a TV reporter. But consumers want this kind of choice and services like Aereo will keep popping up to provide it.

Links of the Day:

– Lovely Warren is attempting to paint Mayor Tom Richards as a man without vision who’s focused on big business and downtown at the expense of neighborhoods.

– “He never seemed like a spy.” Albany is riveted by a Bronx assemblyman who wore a wire for four years.

Cuomo’s alleged coup against Silver backfired big time. Meanwhile, criticism of the governor grows, marking the end of his long honeymoon.

– Xerox could change the way electronic devices are made, with tiny chips woven into objects.

– Why is the news media fascinated when a child walks somewhere alone and is not kidnapped, but helped by nice strangers? This is the norm (and it’s not news).

Cicadas are returning after a 17-year sleep.

Links of the Day:

– Is this the new way to watch TV? A start-up will stream broadcast stations online in New York City $12 a month. The company thinks it can get around copyright laws by putting up thousands of antennas, one for each subscriber. This will likely end up in court.

I’m fascinated by these new models of TV-watching. I can see a day when you pay for programs a la carte that are downloaded to your television or mobile device. I can also see paying a Netflix-like subscription for programming bundles. It’s also possible broadcast stations themselves will stream content for a fee. Cord-cutting has so far been slow to take hold, but these kinds of options will speed things up.

What do you see happening?

– There was a fuss in one our suburban districts in recent years about sex offenders being allowed to vote in schools. Some school districts elsewhere in the country are banning polling places in schools altogether, because voters – they’re a scary lot – might harm children.

– This strikes me as terribly unethical. A group of Chicago charter schools has raked in $400,000 by fining students for behavior infractions.

– The man who wants to tightrope walk across Niagara Falls has permission. New York officials are hoping this is a huge tourism draw. Kind of ghoulish if something goes wrong, no?

– Are you a fan of Instagram? I haven’t used the photo-sharing site, but I’m enthralled by some of the montages. This one is all about Rochester. Enjoy.

There’s evidence today cord-cutting is happening.

Nielson reports the number of households with only the Internet and free television is on the rise. TechCrunch reports:

Although representing less than 5% of TV households, the number has grown 22.8% over the past year.

In addition, the behaviors within these homes are unique. These broadband/broadcast-only households stream video twice as much as the general population, says Nielsen, and they watch half as much TV.

Nielsen says people over 35 are watching more television. People under 35 are watching less television ON a television screen. That could have major implications for broadcast networks, especially local news operations.

People watch more than our hours of TV a day! Ninety percent of households still pay for television. Cord-cutting may be taking hold, but it’s happening very, very slowly.

Links of the Day:

– We still watch a ton of television on an actual television.

Nielsen reported the average American watches 32.5 hours of traditional TV a week, compared to 3.6 hours a week on the Internet.

The data leads All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka to proclaim people won’t be cord-cutting a wide scale anytime soon:

Because they actually like TV quite a bit, and watch tons of it every week, and they’re okay paying for it, too, even if they say they’re not. They just want to pay less for the stuff they want.

One solution to the problem is cable companies offering lower-priced tiers and bundles, which some are now doing. The practice of downgrading is known as “cord-shaving.” (I’m a cord-shaver, having gone to basic cable plus HBO. I probably watch less than 5 hours of television a week.)

Another issue with cord-cutting is the cost of Internet, especially if you are mobile.

– Kodak’s inkjet plant in Dayton, Ohio, could play a key role in the company’s future.

– The signs are there that Governor Cuomo is gearing up to do battle with teachers unions.

– Buffalo is contemplating banning the under-21 crowd from downtown bars.

The Wall Street Journal has a delightful column about breaking up with cable. Cutting the cord. Going Internet-only. Excerpt:

I’ve changed over the years. I’m hardly at home. And when I am, it’s not live television I’m watching. It’s stuff that’s been queued up on my DVR for weeks. But mostly, when I’m on my couch with a remote in my hand, I’ve been…streaming.

I’m quitting you, cable.

This will go easier if we can just admit it: We’re not right for each other anymore.

I took a big step toward cutting the cord by subscribing to only basic cable plus HBO. (I’m thrilled HBO GO is arriving for Time Warner customers – one less reason to DVR.)

I’m starting to wonder, however, if the concept of cord-cutting is a false choice. In order to stream all this great content, you need the Internet, right? You need pretty fast and reliable Internet. Broadband costs anywhere from $30-$60 a month, depending on promotions.

You might be able to lop off $50-$100 from your monthly bill by cutting cable TV, but you can’t ditch the Internet. Time Warner and other cable companies know it, which is why they’re positioning themselves as broadband companies that do TV on the side. Kind of like how Netflix wants to stream and do DVDs on the side.

Complicating matters is the fact the Internet is meant to be mobile. My dream is to have one low-cost Wi-Fi bill for my phone and home. Right now, I pay about $50 for a data-capped phone plan that includes tethering and $45 to Time Warner for home broadband. That’s $105 a month, before taxes, on Internet. So much for reducing my TV bill. (Mi-Fi’s begin to address this, but they are still on somewhat slower over-the-air networks and the cost of entry can be high.)

Consumers will ultimately have more choice and pricing tiers as Internet TV gains a larger foothold. But we’ll always need broadband and I’m convinced we’re replacing one bill with another.