The Supreme Court decision that shuttered Aereo last month has affected only a couple thousand subscribers, but its implications for internet regulation are far more profound.
According to re/code, 12,000 Bostonians were paying the $8-12 every month to receive Aereo service. The company had 77,596 subscribers scattered throughout the nation at the end of 2013.
Those figures are tiny when compared to the loyal body of subscribers at peer companies.
Hulu, for example, now has 6 million subscribers to its premium service, and presumably droves more who use the regular site. Netflix has just announced that it has reached 50 million subscribers across the world.
So why should we care about Aereo? It just seems like yet another embattled company dwarfed by its competitors.
As you may remember, Aereo had claimed that it could let subscribers stream broadcast TV shows without paying fees to the copyright owners. The Court disagreed. It forced Aereo to assume the status of a cable company, which has to pay to stream television content. And Aereo’s plans to gain classification as a cable company have hit a roadblock.
Only three days after the decision was handed down, Aereo announced that it would put its operations on hold.
But though the close of Aereo affects only a couple thousand subscribers, it sets an important precedent for future internet regulation.