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Aereo lays off most of its staff, as prospects dim

A small executive team will be the only ones remaining at the embattled TV-streaming startup, after a Supreme Court ban on its service scared off potential investors.

Aereo is laying off workers in its New York office, as well as at its location in Boston. Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Aereo is laying off dozens of employees as the streaming-TV startup clings to its dwindling resources while court decisions against it mount.

A person familiar with the matter said the majority of Aereo's staff is being laid off, roughly 60 people, leaving just a small executive team remaining.

The development is the latest to darken the future of the startup, which once appeared poised to shake up the TV world by launching a service that grabbed over-the-air TV signals without the company paying broadcasters any fees.

After an early string of favorable lower court rulings, the Supreme Court sided with TV networks suing Aereo in June and ruled the streaming service illegal. (CBS, the parent company of CNET, was among those suing Aereo.) The hits against the company have piled up since, with the US Copyright Office deflecting Aereo's initial attempt to operate under a different kind of copyright license and a lower court last month issuing an outright ban on Aereo's streaming-TV service while the company fights the case.

In a statement, Aereo said Thursday that the job cuts were a cost-saving measure to keep the company alive. "We are continuing to conserve resources while we chart our path forward. We are grateful to our employees for their loyalty, hard work and dedication. This was a difficult but necessary step in order to preserve the company," spokeswoman Virginia Lam said.

The layoffs were reported earlier by Beta Boston.

In a letter to workers in Boston, Aereo said that the nationwide ban against it last month caused parties that were considering investment in the startup to step away. "It is now clear that at this time we are unable to obtain additional funding that would prevent the need to close our operations," the letter said. Aereo was previously backed by IAC Chairman Barry Diller.

Originally, Aereo's service gave subscribers control of an individual mini antenna that could capture and stream broadcast TV shows over the Internet or record them for future viewing, all for $8 to $12. It stopped operating voluntarily shortly after the Supreme Court decision.