Aereo is potentially more attractive than basic cable or antenna to these households because it can capture broadcast programming from cities with the most stations (Los Angeles, for example, has 80 broadcast channels). Thus, people who favored cable because the alternative was a limited number of local channels may find Aereo more attractive than both. After all, the average household only watches 17.5 of the 189 channels it receives. If so, then an Aereo bundle may force the penetration rate of Internet among low-income households to match the rate of cable penetration.
Read MoreWhat Aereo ruling means for TV watchers
It was feasible the cable providers might even have partnered with Aereo because their revenues for basic cable are comparable to those for broadband. There is no way to know, but maybe the Supreme Court and other branches of government could be influenced by a socially appealing argument in favor of the technology's diffusion.
Justice Scalia said in a dissent from the majority opinion—in which he argued that Aereo's business shouldn't be allowed but the court was making new law rather than applying existing law in its ruling, "It may well be that Congress will take a fresh look at this new technology, just as it so often has examined other innovations in the past."
In ruling against Aereo's technology, the majority said it would not prevent the introduction of new technologies: "We agree that Congress, while intending the Transmit Clause [of the Copyright Act] to apply broadly to cable companies and their equivalents, did not intend to discourage or to control the emergence or use of different kinds of technologies. But we do not believe that our limited holding today will have that effect."
If Aereo built a business model around the digital divide, it still wouldn't be a major disruption of the status quo. But it would have been a nice example of an entrant forcing the market to satisfy a disenfranchised niche and maybe could have helped to solve a broader social issue as well.
—By Anne Marie Knott, professor of strategy, Washington University Olin School of Business
Disclosure: CNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal, is among the broadcasting and cable companies that opposed Aereo on copyright claims before the Supreme Court.