MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. The Supreme Court gave broadcasters a huge win this week in their battle against a service called Aereo. Subscribers in 11 cities have been using it to watch and record broadcast TV. With Aereo now deemed illegal, NPR's Elise Hu explores what's next for consumers.
ELISE HU, BYLINE: In her final year as a law student at NYU, Amanda Levendowski learned the nitty-gritty of copyright law. She says it's worth it because that's how she first heard about Aereo.
AMANDA LEVENDOWSKI: I really wanted to be able to stream local channels so I could watch TV shows sooner than the sort of one-week delay that you get on Hulu, and without doing an additional, long-term, paid subscription with a deluxe service.
HU: Like cable. The two-year-old Aereo lets her do exactly what she wants. It picks up live TV signals and sends them to Internet-connected devices like phones, tablets, desktop computers. So Levendowski became a subscriber this January.
LEVENDOWSKI: I'm watching the World Cup in one tab, and on my recordings I'm able to watch the episode of "The Good Wife."
HU: The service costs users anywhere between 8 and $12 a month.
LEVENDOWSKI: I can watch it at home. I can watch it from campus. And you can record a significant amount of television shows to watch later.
HU: Those TV shows Levendowski has saved to watch later is exactly what she's worried about now. It's unclear how long she and other Aereo subscribers will still get the service. Aereo was showing network TV content without paying the same licensing fees cable and satellite companies do. That led to a legal battle that wound up at the Supreme Court. In March, I asked Aereo's CEO, Chet Kanojia, what would happen if he lost?
Do you have a contingency plan in case it doesn't go your way?
CHET KANOJIA: No.
HU: Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled Aereo's service is running afoul of copyright laws.
JIM NAIL: It's got to unwind pretty fast.
HU: That's Forrester analyst Jim Nail. He says it won't make sense for the company to start paying rebroadcast fees, because that would end its price advantage over cable. But he does credit Aereo for giving cable some competition, even if it lost in court.
NAIL: What this does give these incumbent, you know, cable companies and broadcast companies - I think it gives them a little bit of window to continue improving and growing out their own TV-everywhere services. And if they get that right, then there's much less incentive for consumers to pay attention to those new innovators.
HU: Aereo says it's still evaluating its options. The company holds more than a dozen patents, so it's technology could live on in reworked ways, but analysts aren't optimistic.
NAIL: It's just flat-out illegal, so how long can a company continue an illegal activity?
HU: For subscribers like Levendowski, the binge watching begins. She's got to catch up with hours of recorded TV, especially her favorite, "The Good Wife" on CBS.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We've always had bad timing, haven't we?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR 2: We have.
LEVENDOWSKI: I might binge through these final episodes of "The Good Wife" to get up to real-time. I just know that that's going to be sort of an emotional move.
HU: What she's really sad about is what happens in the Fall, when new television seasons begin. By then, Aereo will likely be over. Elise Hu, NPR News, Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.