The second quarter of 2014 saw several major developments in the ongoing restructuring of the pay-TV business, but there was little for those banking on a disruption of that industry to cheer about. From the Supreme Court to the World Cup to the M&A leader board the traditional broadcasters and incumbent service providers gained legal victories over disruptive new entrants and consolidated their hold on the emerging business of real-time streaming.
Among the key developments:
- The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Aereo was infringing broadcasters’ public performance right by retransmitting their programming without a license. In the court’s view, if a service looks like a cable-TV system and quacks like a cable-TV system it should pay up for content like a cable-TV system.
- The 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil shattered all previous records for concurrent live streaming, demonstrating in the process that the emerging over-the-top live-streaming business is developing along the same big-ticket sporting events that drive the traditional pay-TV business today.
- Apple made its biggest acquisition to date in Beats Electronics and Beats Music, a $3.2 billion acqui-hire of Beats founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre as Apple tries to figure out the music streaming space.
- With consolidation now the name of the game in the pay-TV and broadband industries, AT&T made its bid to counter Comcast’s deal to acquire Time Warner Cable by agreeing to buy DirecTV for $49 billion.
- FCC chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new net neutrality regulations that managed to please no one and set off a loud public debate by voices that do not even agree on what they’re arguing about.
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