Many TV stations didn’t want to forge streaming alliances with the Iowa-based company while it looked like Aereo might dominate the market to take their over-the-air signals to the Internet — without any agreements. But that could change following this week’s Supreme Court’s ruling that Aereo’s business model violates copyright law. “With this decision behind us, you’ll see movement accelerate over the next few months” as stations leave the sidelines to deploy Syncbak’s technology, company founder and CEO Jack Perry tells me.
I know, that’s just what you’d expect him to say. But Syncbak‘s taken seriously: Investors include CBS, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Consumer Electronics Association, and former NBC execs Bill Bolster, Michael Gartner, and Ed Scanlon. About 150 stations already use its technology with Apple and Android apps. Fox’s WNYW New York is the largest, but Gray Television and Northwest Broadcasting also are on board. Small broadcasters have been most receptive: Perry says it only costs $3,000 to take a station’s signal online. They also have less to fear from Aereo. It has to build antenna farms to serve a market and, with the investment that entails, “I don’t think they could have gone beyond market No. 30,” Perry says.
Syncbak’s biggest challenge is to figure out, with stations, what business models make sense. “Some stations are dabbling with free,” Perry says — but most likely will want to limit themselves to cable and satellite subscribers who use the distributors’ TV Everywhere platforms. Syncbak hopes to iron the business issues out this year. If it does, then “we’re ready to roll out in early 2015,” he says.
Is he right about Syncbak’s prospects after the Supreme Court’s verdict? “Great question,” says BTIG’s Richard Greenfield, an early and outspoken Aereo supporter. “Not sure yet.”