Aereo draws surprising support from consumers eager for change

With Aereo’s date in the Supreme Court just one week away, a little good news/bad news about public perception of the streaming device.

First, the good news (at least if you’re an Aereo exec) from a Centris Marketing Science survey:

  • 53% of respondents from non-pay-TV households say they are very likely or somewhat likely to subscribe to Aereo instead of a traditional pay-TV service.
  • 44% of pay-TV subscribers who also use streaming services also are somewhat or very likely to use the service.
  • 41% of all pay-TV households.

That, of course is also bad news, if you’re a broadcasting executive. 

For service provider? Meh. A little good, a little bad… it all depends if operators will be able to bring their own Aereo-style product to market quickly.

Granted, the numbers from the “somewhat” and “very likely” segments aren’t exactly barnburners. But, it’s important to note that Aereo is, essentially, a mystery to most American consumers. It’s only available in a handful of markets, and even in those markets Aereo isn’t marketing the device to a very large segment.

In fact, Sanford Bernstein Research conducted a pair of consumer panels in New York City last spring and found that none of the participants — young, relatively low-income and single — had ever heard of Aereo, not a good thing for a tech company that, logically, should appeal to young cord nevers.

Sanford Analyst Todd Juenger said younger viewers discover in college that pay TV is replaceable, and opt for more flexible — and cheaper–viewing options.

“The demands of college (both time and money) ultimately trump the need for the vast array of content choices a pay-TV package can provide,” Juenger wrote. “This behavior is then carried forward beyond college, and the cord-cutter is born.”

So, what’s the bottom line? It’s increasingly obvious that viewers want change, that they want better alternatives that the standard – expensive fare – from their pay-TV provider.

Will Aereo prevail in its court battle with broadcasters? Before NAB, I would have said it was a long shot. And, while it’s not yet even money, I think there’s a lot of smart money counting on the High Court to side with innovation.

If it does… oh, boy.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn