Aereo, the streaming start-up that was poised to upend the TV industry until the Supreme Court shut it down, has been sold for scraps.
Aereo’s assets fetched under $2 million at auction, according to a person familiar with the sale. The figure is a far cry from the $90-$100 million that media mogul Barry Diller and other investors put in the company as part of high stakes gamble on copyright law.
“We are very disappointed with the results of the auction. This has been a very difficult sales process and the results reflect that,” said William Baldiga, counsel for Aereo and partner at Brown Rudnick, in a statement.
This outcome likely reflects the legal sword that continued to hang over Aereo even in bankruptcy, as broadcasters pressed their claims for huge copyright damages. As a result, Aereo was sold off in pieces rather than as a company.
The primary winner of the auction appears to be TV recording service TiVo, which acquired Aereo’s trademark along with customer lists and unspecified other assets.
Meanwhile, the holding company RPX, which is a patent troll of sorts, has acquired Aereo’s patents.
The person familiar with Aereo said the company has yet to sell certain other assets, and that it is still looking for other opportunities. (It’s unclear what other assets could be left, one guess is trade secrets and other know-how from the company’s engineering team.)
The person also suggested that the broadcasters, including ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, were determined to bury Aereo’s technology rather than see it emerge under a new business model.
Until it was shut down last fall, Aereo offered consumers a means of watching and recording TV on mobile devices. While some Aereo content came via partnerships with stations like Bloomberg TV, most of the shows came via over-the-air TV.
Aereo, which provided subscribers with a remote antenna and DVR, claimed it was simply offering consumers a technology akin to a VCR, which is legal under copyright law.
An appeals court judge in New York initially agreed with Aereo’s position, noting that the service was akin to cloud-based DVR’s which courts have found to be legal. The broadcasters prevailed at the Supreme Court, however, in a controversial decision that appears set to sow further confusion over copyright.
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An earlier version of this story referring to RPX linked to an unrelated story. The link has been updated.