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How will the Aereo court decision impact advertising and public relations?

By Jason Mudd

Forget TV. Just stream it, baby. The Internet has nudged many viewers to seek programming on their time and from whatever device they choose. Recently, a company called Aereo began offering network television programming to consumers over the Internet. But it’s not that simple, and it involves a pending Supreme Court lawsuit case. What will the implications be for ad revenues and PR campaigns?

Aereo’s technology utilizes antennas that pick up the networks’ signals, which can be directed through the Internet to Aereo’s paying subscribers.

The concept isn’t new. Netflix has offered its library for online streaming since 2007. Cable movie channels now offer apps for watching their programming, and even the networks have jumped on board with their own apps. However, Aereo, which was founded by Chet Kanojia in February 2012, developed technology that some say could be “stealing” network programming and selling it to consumers for $8 to $12 per month.

The networks have taken notice and continue to file lawsuits against Aereo. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals and more than one federal court has backed Aereo as operating from within the law, but the networks are taking the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. Very recently, the Supreme Court decided to consider the lawsuit brought by the broadcasters, so the decision will be coming at some point in the future.

These cases take a lot of time to decide, which means even more consumers could tune in to what Aereo is offering. Public relations and marketing professionals should be already thinking about ways they can boost their brands on Aereo and get their products in front of more consumers.

Should the Supreme Court weigh in favor of Aereo, the impact on how Americans watch network television events could be far-reaching. For example, “Dancing with the Stars,” “Homeland,” “Scandal,” “NCIS” and “Blacklist,” which are some of the most popular network programs on the air at the moment, could move to a pay-per-view model. Popular sports events that draw millions of viewers could also go the pay-per-view route. This means major ad campaigns would lose their punch.

Yet, smart PR campaigns might keep doing what they’ve been doing. This includes listening to audiences and brand advocates, managing online reputations, planning ahead for crisis and incorporating relationships with journalists to gain valuable earned news coverage. Public relations, as a discipline, forgoes paid ads in favor of strategies that provide lasting impact over the course of a brand – generating even bigger influence over time.

Business Week recently featured an article about the impact on broadcast TV soon after a court ruling in New York giving Aereo the green light to proceed with business. The article cited a Fox executive who said if Aereo isn’t shut down, he would consider moving the entire Fox programming lineup to a cable or satellite subscription model. With data mining and analysis as a top PR trend for 2014, smart firms will be ready to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by this pending decision. They’ll also be ready to look at the challenges toward giving targeted messages to a shifting audience.

At Axia Public Relations, we follow these trends while we continue using smart, ethical and inventive tactics to bring a comprehensive set of tools to our clients. We’re tuned in to events like the Aereo decision and how they impact audiences so that you can focus on what you do best. Tune in to Axia PR today.

Mudd_Jason_Color_hi_res_forward_crop– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works! Global, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.

Topics: public relations

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