TiVo Gets Approval From Bankruptcy Court Judge To Buy Some Aereo Assets

If Aereo wasn’t dead already, the announcement from TiVo that it’s successfully snagged the former streaming service’s trademarks and customer lists will certainly send any hopes that the company could resurrect itself six feet into the ground. After an assets auction last month where companies picked over Aereo’s bones, TiVo says a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge has approved its purchase of those assets.

TiVo said in a statement today that the judge’s approval on Thursday in Manhattan finalizes the sale held in late February, and that it will use the customer lists to target more consumers.

“This strategic acquisition of Aereo’s trademarks and customer lists will enhance our ability to serve the growing segment of consumers who want access to both broadcast television and over the top content,” CEO Tom Rogers says. “TiVo has found success in providing a more comprehensive offering and sophisticated user experience than any other player in the marketplace and we look forward to expanding on that success.”

While it’s unclear exactly what form the Aereo name could take now, we pointed out back when news of the sale first hit that TiVo might decide to use it for an upcoming DVR that records over-the-air network feeds.

After the Feb. 24 sale reportedly brought in only about $2 million and not the $100 million Aereo was hoping for, Aereo said the whole thing was a bummer.

“We are very disappointed with the results of the auction,” Aereo’s counsel told GigaOm at the time. “This has been a very difficult sales process and the results reflect that.”

A quick primer on the rise and fall of Aereo for those not in the know: The streaming start-up employed arrays of tiny antennae set up on tall buildings to capture freely available over-the-air TV feeds. It then streamed the content to paying customers, in a method that the company and its supporters likened to a rooftop antenna with a very long cord.

But though each antenna had a single-end user and only allowed users to see broadcast feeds in their own market — something anyone with a good antenna could do on their own — TV networks accused Aereo of violating their copyright by rebroadcasting their signals and charging for it, without their permission and without paying retransmission fees cable companies pay.

Aereo fought its way to winning multiple federal appeals, but ended up losing when the issue was put to the Supreme Court of the United States. A majority of justices ruled against Aereo, saying the company was operating a service that was substantively no different than a cable TV provider.

Aereo shut down its streaming business shortly after, and then tried to argue that if it was going to be classed as a pay-TV operator like the others, it should be able to license the content for a reasonable fee. The last life went out of Aereo however when the U.S. Copyright office disagreed, and a federal appeals court said it wouldn’t listen to the company’s case.

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