Tips & Tricks for Technologists & System Administrators | About & Contact

The Fight To Lower Your Cable Bill: Online Live Streaming Television In Jeopardy


Posted 24th September in Other Technology, Television. 1 Comment

First, a bit of history.

Cable TV started in the 1970s when TV consumers just outside the range of commercial Over The Air (OTA) broadcasts banded together to create community “Cable” TV systems. An antenna was posted at a high spot on a mountain and pulled in signals that were out of range for households, then retransmitted those signals to subscribers. At the time, there was a fight by the commercial television stations to protect their content, but eventually the cable systems won out, and eventually evolved to be the mega-cable companies you see today. In fact, today cable companies and content companies are one-in-the-same.

Fast forward to today. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an internet television station that would take OTA broadcast signals and retransmit them over the internet to households that couldn’t receive that signal? Well, there is and its name is ivi.tv.

The ivi.tv interface. Includes channel guide, DVR, and more.

The user experience was great. The stations came in at high quality and live, something that today’s streaming world is sorely missing. It was only about $10 per month, and you received the major broadcast stations. There was only one problem – the current content owners and cable systems (rightly) see this as a threat to their existing cable based systems, as the same exact TV content can be transmitted through their own internet lines and therefore cannibalism their TV revenue stream. ivi.tv was sued by over 40 major broadcasts and stations, and was forced to take their live streams of CBS, ABC, NBC offline. The very life of ivi.tv and other internet live TV streaming companies is threatened. They want to squash innovation in live streaming TV.

ivi’s CEO Todd Weaver has said this:

“Broadcasters fought against cable companies, then joined them. Broadcasters then fought against satellite companies, then joined them. Now it is our turn. History has a habit of repeating itself — and it is unfortunate they cannot learn from that and realize we strongly support broadcasters and their program suppliers helping them monetize, increase their eyeballs, and ultimately get paid.” (Source)

He’s right. This is the future of live television, and the existing hegemony of cable systems and content creators is fighting it tooth and nail. They have enough money to throw into lawsuits to delay it forever.

So what can you do about this?

The case against ivi.tv is currently working its way through the court system. Whatever is the decision on this court case is going to be used as prior ruling on future cases. I can’t even begin to describe how important it is that ivi wins their case. The odds are stacked up against them. With limited funds, there is no way they can fight the courts forever. Donate money to their cause here, and tell your friends about this innovative service that is being crushed by the big cable companies.

Everyone complains about the high price of cable television. You want alternatives? Support, share and talk about this court case and the future of online television.

Additional Reading:


Originally posted 20110924 and last touched 20110924
Dave Drager+ is the Chief Technology Officer at XDA-Developers, where he keeps the server farm running efficiently for millions of visitors per day. He has written previously for the technology blogs Lifehacker and MakeUseOf.


  • drmlgcc

    ivi.tv’s situation seems dire, indeed. But there are other companies out there with a more legal take on streaming tv, and i think it is indicative of a trend towards consumers getting their content via streaming sources, and content providers slowly, but surely, recognizing this trend, and forming more appropriate solutions to the increasing demand for online content.

     byron allen’s Smart.TV recently released half-a-dozen apps that provide both video-on-demand and streaming live video on a variety of subjects – apps like ‘comedy.tv’, ‘pets.tv’, and ‘recipe.tv’ are helping lead the way for media companies to embrace the emergence of a solid streaming media market. and there’s companies like Mediafly, who are providing more and more businesses with an easy way to stream their multimedia content to consumers…

    i cant say im really surprised ivi.tv is getting sued, it seems kind of similar to the recent ninjavideo lawsuit. it would be one thing if there was no charge for the content, and the ivi folks weren’t making money off their product. If that was the case, sympathy for their situation could be warranted. but if they’re just ripping other people’s content, and then selling it, it becomes a less admirable effort…