December 3, 2013
The National Football League may pull the plug on airing its games on broadcast TV if feisty startup Aereo prevails in its legal skirmish with the major networks, the league said in a court filing.
The move to strictly limit televised NFL games to cable would mean the 11 million US households without access to pay TV would lose America's most popular programming.
Barry Diller's Aereo sells access to broadcast networks by renting out digital antennas by the month.
Aereo does not pay CBS, ABC, Fox or NBC retransmission fees like cable companies do, thus threatening their financial model as well as the financial health of the NFL and Major League Baseball, which joined the football league in the filing. The NFL is fearful that its $10 billion in annual media revenue could be under threat if a tiny startup is allowed to flourish. A move to cable by the NFL would put their games outside the reach of Aereo.
The networks have filed suit to stop Diller's company but recently lost a federal appeals court case. They are now asking the Supreme Court to hear the case and last week won the support of the sports leagues.
The NFL is upset because Aereo, threatens a host of packages it sells, such as DirecTV's "Sunday Ticket," Verizon's mobile package and tablet rights sold to media partners.
The NFL warning was little more than a bluff aimed at protecting its giant revenue base, one TV source told The Post. "Sounds good in a brief, but no f-ing way," said one senior sports figure. "The Super Bowl is never going to air on cable. The NFL loves the networks, and they want the widest reach." - New York Post
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