During the second day of All Things Digital’s D11 Conference yesterday, IAC’s Barry Diller and CNN’s Jeff Zucker fielded questions about the changing video landscape, but Diller hit hardest while discussing IAC-backed streaming service Aereo.
Aereo gives subscribers access to the same kind of digital antenna, he argues, that television owners can already purchase in rabbit-ear form at any RadioShack — but the difference that has caused uproar (and a lawsuit) among cable providers is that it subverts cable’s exclusive rights to distribute content online (think HBOGo).
But Diller expressed a relief at Aereo’s recent legal proceedings, saying “I’m kind of glad they sued us in such a noisy way because it’s helping get Aereo known to people. So, all this drama that is stirred up is actually, I think, good for us.” It’s this kind of publicity that he hopes to use to expand Aereo’s subscriber base from just Boston and New York to 22 cities in the next 6–8 months.
He noted that Aereo’s subscriber base is currently extremely small, but he hopes expanding will bring a greater opportunity to both younger audiences and those uncomfortable paying more for the channels they don’t watch to support people who do. Diller said, “I think that young people who don’t now subscribe to cable are going to maybe think of Aereo as an alternative because they don’t like cable. They see no reason to pay $100 a month for things they mostly don’t watch.”
Challenged by Zucker for potentially proposing to give away content without paying broadcasters, Diller added, “I don’t want to beat up broadcasters…I want to move from closed systems to Internet systems. The more you can get video to IP, the better it will be,” going on to predict that in 20 years, “I can’t imagine we’ll have cable running around.”
Diller’s vote of confidence for companies capable of disrupting broadcast companies included Amazon, Microsoft and Apple. On the latter he said, “I don’t think it’s some big secret that they’ve been working for years on trying to solve television,” which slightly mirrored Tim Cooke’s comments at the same conference, even if Cooke’s assertions were a bit more veiled than Diller’s confidence.
Facing the future, Diller said, “I think it’s exciting that there’s going to be some creative disruption. For the first time, you could seamlessly hook up a large screen to the Internet and get these [streaming] services.”