Anne Sweeney: Aereo is “Opportunistic Piracy”


AereoDisney/ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney made the comment during an onstage interview at the AllThingsDigital conference 5/29 where Aereo Founder Barry Diller had appeared earlier in the day.

“It’s opportunistic piracy,” The Wrap quoted her as saying. “With all due respect (to Diller), it’s taking advantage of our content.”

The broadcast networks are suing Aereo for copyright infringement. Aereo streams local broadcast channels’ signals (after receiving them with a personal antenna housed at a central location) to subscribers without compensating the networks or local stations.

Aereo is currently in NYC and Boston, with Atlanta, DC and 20 other cities scheduled for launch this year.

Diller said at the conference that as the audience grows via Aereo, the networks can charge advertisers for the increased audience. He added that cord-cutting is underway and Aereo serves many of those disenchanted consumers. He added that 90% of cable subscribers pay for ESPN, for example, but only 10% of them watch the sports channel.

Sweeney countered by saying that their research suggests that the cost of a la carte cable would be prohibitively expensive: “Our research says it is not a better prospect for a consumer,” The Wrap quoted her as saying. “Comparing it to a newspaper…when I only get the front page, don’t get sports…the cost changes very dramatically for the consumer.”

Kristie Chong Adler, ESPN’s Manager, Communications, tells RBR-TVBR Diller’s numbers are wrong when it comes to ESPN: “I wanted to share two key findings that challenges this statement.  Based on 4th Quarter 2012 data for five measured ESPN networks:

·         88% of households that can receive ESPN networks tune in to one or more of the networks.

·         In 4th Quarter 2012, ESPN networks reached 89 million households and over 200M persons 2+ in those households – about two-thirds of the U.S. population.”

See The Wrap story here