Aereo Files for Ch. 11, ending its epic battle with Big Media

Alas, poor Aereo, I knew it well.

The streaming startup that disrupted the media landscape before being shut down by the Supreme Court — and possibly even prompting CBS to launch its new All Access OTT service — is no more.

The company today announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Over the course of its brief, tumultuous three-year life, Aereo had a better won-loss percentage than some big league pitchers, beating big broadcasting in multiple federal court battle. But it couldn’t win the big one.

Aereo won in the federal district courts in New York and Boston and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. But the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Second Circuit decision in June was the killer blow.

This morning, in a letter to customers, CEO Chet Kanojia said Aereo launched its streaming service because it wanted to “build a better television experience for the consumer.”

“We began this journey because we were frustrated with a system that we believed was broken and no longer served the consumer,” Kanojia wrote. “When it came to watching live television, the options were few, the products available were cumbersome and didn’t fit our increasingly mobile lifestyle, and costs were unreasonably high and rising.”

Backed by some big investors, including media mogul Barry Diller, Aereo reportedly raised – and apparently spent – more than $100 million.

While Aereo may have been failed as a business, its idea has spurred several other entities to develop OTT products. In addition to CBS, Sony, Verizon, Dish and DirecTV all are looking at delivering live, liner bundles of content.

They won’t be the last, because, as Kanojia said in his note, “We knew we had touched a nerve, had created something special, and had a built something meaningful for consumers.”

Established media companies may have an easier time of it… they are, after all, used to working within the framework of content rights negotiations, have the back office support to grow, and already have a reputation (that’s a bit of a double-edged sword) with consumers.

The biggest question, perhaps, is will they be able to think outside the box enough to be meaningful – and attractive – to consumers?

Time will tell, but if history is any guide, Big Media will change, albeit slowly, to meet the needs (demands?) of its customers.

And, Kanojia, Diller and Aereo all will have had a hand in making that happen.

“We have traveled a long and challenging road,” Kanojia wrote today. “We stayed true to our mission and we believe that we have played a significant part in pushing the conversation forward, helping force positive change in the industry for consumers… With so many shifts and advances in technology, there has never been a more perfect time to take risks, challenge the status quo and build something special.”

Stay tuned.

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