NY Judge Allows Startup to Relay Live TV to iPhones, iPads. Will Second Screen Ratings Help Networks?

By Devon Glenn 

It’s not illegal to watch live content from television networks on a mobile device, a New York judge ruled on Wednesday. Television networks Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC and others had sued the startup company Aereo for copyright infringements after learning that the company was using remote antennas to give viewers access to their content on iPhones, iPads, and computers for $12 per month.

Aereo had argued that its antennas were simply smaller, remote versions of the old rabbit ears that television viewers have been using for years.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who presided over the case, said she based her decision on a previous case in which Cablevision’s Remote Storage DVR system was deemed acceptable by the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan because it was similar to what consumers could buy in stores, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Nathan upheld the precedent set by the past ruling despite her concerns that broadcasters could lose advertising revenue due to the perceived loss of viewers who chose to watch live programming on their mobile devices instead of their television sets. Available only in New York City, Aereo’s network has grown from 100 to 3,500 registered users in the last year.

But the creators of the Nielsen ratings, which are the standard measurement for television viewership, are already wise to second screen viewing. In March, the company announced a Cross-Platform Ratings system that would be able to track viewers on the Internet as well as on television, regardless of the device.

When asked if the new ratings system would be able to track viewers on services like Aereo, a Nielsen spokesperson told SocialTimes, “Nielsen is working closely with clients to capture the expansion of viewing, including on iOS.”

For now, the networks involved in the lawsuit plan to appeal the court’s decision.

Image by cla78 via Shutterstock.