As of now, Aereo is only able to provide this streaming service for local channels in thirteen markets, so it may seem like an insignificant threat when matched up against the traditional giants of broadcasting, but this is not the case. A decision in favor of Aereo from the Supreme Court is being framed as a potential death blow to free local programming. Broadcasters argue that Aereo is not different from a cable company in that it retransmits their content from the public domain to the greater public. Cable providers are allowed to do this because they pay enormous fees to the major broadcasters. As advertising revenues have decreased with the rise of computer viewing, these fees have become crucial to the survival of major networks. If Aereo were allowed to provide the same content to users without paying. then why should cable companies continue to spend millions for the same privilege? They probably shouldn't. Networks are wary of such a mentality coming to fruition. To combat these claims, Aereo states that its service is nothing more then a way to help people use legal antenna technology. If what they are doing is illegal, then every person who owns an antenna (estimated to be about 60 million) could be breaking the law every time they turn on their set.
One of the reasons this case is so interesting is that both sides have relatively strong arguments for why the ruling should be in their favor. For the broadcasters, this could be a last stand in the fight to preserve a dying industry. What Aereo is doing is extremely similar to what cable companies do, so why shouldn't they be treated the same way? However, people have been using antennas to get free television for years, and Aereo argues it should not be punished for finding a better way to do it.
Up until this point, lower courts have ruled against the plaintiff networks, but with the Obama administration coming out in support of their argument, there is a fair amount of momentum building for the broadcasters. The Supreme Court justices seemingly hold little to no opinion on copyright laws, so it is possible that this pro-network sentiment building up in Washington could sway their judgement. Ultimately, however, this ruling will likely not have the profound effects that some people are predicting. There is a small chance SCOTUS could choose to lump Aereo in with all companies that operate through online streaming and cloud technology, thus rendering them all as also illegal, which would be absolutely devastating for the entire Internet economy, but that does not seem like a direction the Court, President, or Congress interested in heading. If anything Obama has indicated that if it were up to him the scale of the court's decision would be very limited. Thus Aereo will most likely be declared illegal and forced to disband, but that’s about where the repercussions will end. If that is the case the ruling would be just. Aero may be using a perfectly legal technology as the basis of its company, but in reality they have simply found a loophole in the market and the courts should probably set things straight. Broadcasting networks will live to fight another day, but without major reforms in their favor it won't be long until a new technology arises that threatens their way of life.