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Cutting the Cord: The shape of streaming things to come

Posted by armen chang Friday, July 17, 2015 0 comments

You don't need a crystal ball to get an inkling of what an online video future might look like. Several recent developments suggest we'll soon have more stuff to watch in more ways.
Traditional pay-TV providers, media companies, streaming video upstarts — and courts — are all making moves. "Hardly a day goes by without evidence of major disruption in the TV ecosystem," eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna said.
Remember Aereo? That pioneering streaming company got shut down last year after the Supreme Court ruled that it needed to pay broadcasters for the retransmission of their content. Aereo had argued that its leasing of tiny individual antennas for each paying customer made it OK to stream local channels online.
Aereo filed for bankruptcy, but another fledgling video provider, FilmOn, continued the legal fight to stream local TV broadcasts. FilmOn, which has more than 600 TV channels and podcasts and 50 audio channels, lends subscribers a software desktop presence to watch U.S. and international broadcasts.
Last week, a U.S. District Court ruled that it should be able to get a compulsory license to legally stream local broadcasts. The ruling is under appeal, but should it be upheld it means that local TV stations can be streamed by any number of services, includingNetflix, Amazon and Hulu, says Mitch Stoltz, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It will destroy ...  existing cable and satellite systems’ comfortable position as the only ones who can transmit broadcast TV for a fee," he said.
Speaking of Hulu, the online video destination owned by ABC, Fox and NBC appears to be considering an ad-free option. Currently, Hulu can be viewed for free, but a $7.99 monthly subscription gets you access to additional episodes and full seasons of TV series — and viewing on more devices. Ads play on both tiers of service.


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