A few weeks ago a company called FilmOn launched a service that let you stream live TV broadcasts from major US network affiliates to an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad using your web browser. Just navigate to FilmOn.com in your mobile browser and select the channel you want to view. There’s just one problem: FilmOn was retransmitting local broadcasts without permission from those stations.
FilmOn claims that the practice is a protected form of retransmission, but understandably the companies that own the initial distribution rights to the media FilmOn is streaming feel differently.
Inevitably, the case wound up in court, and yesterday a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order. In response, FilmOn issued a statement saying it had removed major broadcast network streams from its site, and looks forward to working out deals in the future that will bring them back to the site.
That said, I took a quick look at the site today, and while Fox, NBC, and ABC affiliates are nowhere to be seen, there are still links to Los Angeles-based CBS, CW, and Ion affiliates, as well as some other channels from around the globe.
The long and short of it is, you can still use the service to watch live TV streams from some networks… for now. FilmOn does point out hat more than 30 million individual users visited the site over the past few weeks showing that there’s huge demand for this kind of service. Unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily mean FilmOn will be the company to fill this niche. I somehow suspect that if and when we do start seeing fully legal live streams of broadcast and cable television, it will come from a subscription service that has worked out deals with all of the content owners.