Aereo to Auction Its TV Streaming Technology

By Sahil Patel

Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed startup that tried to deliver broadcast TV channels over the internet, is hoping to auction its streaming technology months after a US Supreme Court decision left its business crippled.

Launched in 2012, Aereo offered a cloud-based subscription service that allowed users to watch and record live, over-the-air television. Since then, the startup was mired in a legal battle with broadcasters over the legality of its service. Broadcasters claimed that Aereo violated its copyrights, while Aereo argued that it was protected under the Copyright Act. The Supreme Court sided with the TV people.

Backed by nearly $100 million from investors including Barry Diller’s IAC and FirstMark Capital, Aereo is down to $3.6 million in cash, based on recent court documents.

In November, Aereo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and laid off most of its staff.

Now, a judge in the US Bankruptcy Court in New York has signed off on the rules that would allow Aereo to sell its assets and technology to the highest bidder. Per the rules, though, the entire process will be conducted with the approval and oversight of the broadcasters, who will receive weekly updates from Aereo as well attend the auction.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Aereo is already receiving interest for its technology; the company is in talks with 17 prospective bidders. Bids are due on February 20; in the case of multiple bids, an auction will be held on February 24. A hearing to approve the sale is scheduled for March 11, which would give broadcasters some time to review and object to any sale.