Did CBS invest in Iowa startup Syncbak in response to Aereo threat?

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Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:00 am

Following CBS Corporation's announcement Monday that it made a strategic minority investment in TV-streaming startup Syncbak, several news outlets have suggested that the action may have something to do with a similar startup, Aereo.

While Syncbak operates on a limited, pay-TV model, New York-based Aereo allows users to watch local broadcast television online with more freedom. CBS was among a number of stations, including NBC, ABC, FOX, PBS and the CW, that recently took legal action against Aereo for its refusal to pay retransmission fees for online content. Despite network grievances, an appellate court ruled earlier this month that the startup did not infringe upon any copyrights.

BloombergVariety, the Los Angeles Times and VentureBeat are among the media outlets that highlighted connections between the recent CBS investment and the media giant's on-going feud with Aereo.

Here's how VentureBeat put it:

The investment is an interesting move for CBS considering company CEO Les Moonves previously said his company could take its broadcast station off the air and transform it into a cable network given the recent legal developments with Aereo. Syncbak could conceivably make CBS’ affiliate stations more competitive with Aereo’s service, which offers local residents access to all freely broadcast content as well as on-demand and DVR features.

For more on this story, see our post: "CBS invests in TV-streaming startup Syncbak".

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