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CBS Invests In Streaming TV Company Amid Conflict with Aereo

April 23, 2013  |  7:00pm
CBS Invests In Streaming TV Company Amid Conflict with Aereo

Amid a widely publicized legal conflict with Aereo, CBS announced Tuesday it has made a “minority investment” in a new streaming television service called Syncbak.

Unlike Aereo, Syncbak’s technology doesn’t capture over-the-air signals from local station affiliates. Syncbak instead works with local stations to stream the same programming online, while adhering to the same location-based distribution rules that ensure that all stations, broadcasting companies and content creators are compensated.

How is Syncbak able to do this? The same stations that allow Syncbak to stream programs online do so because they require Syncbak customers to register to view their programming. This registry ensures that customers are in fact streaming the programming from the appropriate market locations. This is important because in order to receive proper compensation, distribution rules require that local affiliates only stream their content in certain locations, according to Syncbak.

Aereo simply bypasses the local stations altogether. Aereo’s streaming service allows customers to use dime-sized antennas to capture, record and redistribute the broadcast programming they’d normally receive for free with conventional antennas. And so, broadcasting companies like CBS and its local affiliates do not receive compensation under Aereo’s model.

It is this lack of compensation that has led to companies like CBS and FOX to seek legal action against Aereo on the grounds of copyright infringement. Two courts have already ruled in favor of Aereo in such legal proceedings, ruling that because Aereo is only streaming this content to individual customers, the service itself does not satisfy the requirements needed to be considered guilty of copyright infringement.

It looks like CBS may have stumbled onto a viable streaming TV service compromise, provided that it actually works well once it expands beyond the 100 television stations it currently covers. Eligible customers who live near Syncbak-participating broadcasters can download the free Syncbak mobile app via the App Store and Google Play.

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