Aereo Goes Dark

Startup pulls the plug


On June 25, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a devastating blow to Aereo, a New York-based startup that sought to let consumers "watch live TV online" without the need for a costly cable subscription. According to the 6-3 majority opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, Aereo was in violation of federal copyright law because it failed to secure the appropriate permissions and pay the necessary fees before showing programs.

The Court's judgment left Aereo scrambling for a fix. In an open letter to customers posted three days after the ruling came down, company chief Chet Kanojia said Aereo would "pause our operations temporarily" as it searched for a way to remain viable in the television market.

Six months later, that pause became permanent. Citing the "regulatory and legal uncertainty" created by the adverse ruling, Aereo filed for bankruptcy on December 21. "While our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us," Kanojia announced, "without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome."