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Aereo bankruptcy auction fetches less than $2 million

An attorney for the defunct streaming-TV service calls the results disappointing. The company had expected to bring in anywhere from $4 million to $31.2 million.

Aereo offered its assets during a bankruptcy auction this week. Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Aereo, the defunct streaming-TV service shuttered last year over copyright violations, raised less than $2 million from the sale of its assets in a bankruptcy auction this week.

Aereo's trademark and customer lists were sold to TiVo, maker of digital video recorders, while patent risk-management firm RPX acquired Aereo's patent portfolio. Information technology company Alliance Technology bought some equipment.

The money raised in the auction was less than half of the $4 million minimum the company had expected to use to pay creditors. Aereo, which had raised about $100 million from investors, had estimated the auction could bring in as much as $31.2 million.

"We are very disappointed with the results of the auction," William Baldiga, who serves as Aereo's debtor's counsel, said in a statement. "This has been a very difficult sales process and the results reflect that."

Launched in 2012 with the backing of IAC Chairman Barry Diller, 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 a month.

In a victory to the broadcasters suing to shut down Aereo, the US Supreme Court ruled that the service was illegally retransmitting broadcast TV over the Internet. The court concluded that the streaming-TV service was fundamentally the same as a cable company but didn't pay broadcasters the same fees cable companies must, a violation of the Copyright Act. (CBS, the parent company of CNET, was one of the broadcasters suing Aereo.)

Aereo stopped operating voluntarily shortly after the Supreme Court decision. Though it attempted various alternatives to resume streaming, the US Copyright Office deflected Aereo's initial attempt to operate under a different kind of copyright license, and a lower court issued an outright ban on Aereo's streaming-TV service.

Acknowledging that it had exhausted its viable routes to stay in business, Aereo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November. Aereo laid off most of its staff earlier that month, leaving just a small executive crew to manage its remaining operations.