It's alive! The return of nimbleTV

hand rising from grave, in TV screen

© DepositPhotos / Paulus Rusyanto & Lyudmyla Kharlamova

Just as I was typing my last post, pointing out that nimbleTV’s guide was the best of the streaming services I’ve seen so far, I got an email from nimbleTV support. It’s coming back.

There are a few new wrinkles in the system. The first was that Dish Network will no longer bill separately for its part of the fee. “(G)oing forward, there will be single charge (sic) for the total amount including the TV provider’s amount,” the note read. The email never mentioned Dish by name, suggesting that nimbleTV doesn’t want to be accused of reselling Dish without permission.

The second, more serious wrinkle in the email is that the New York City locals delivered by Dish are off limits by default. “If you wish to continue to get New York local channels, a New York Metropolitan Area address is required.” I find that wording interesting. It doesn’t say that I need to live in NY, or even provide a NY credit card billing address (as Aereo requires). It doesn’t say that it has to be my address. Did you know that the Empire State Building is at 350 5th Ave, 10118? Just sayin’.

I haven’t provided any new address yet, but I am able to log in to my account. All of my old channels are there, plus TV Guide Network, minus the NYC locals. I can’t watch any of them live; when I try, I see a pop-up that says “Sorry, we’re still activating this channel.” Until I verify my address, all I’ll get to watch are my pre-stoppage recordings, including those I made from NYC locals.

So what happened? Except for that email, nobody has told me anything, though notes on Twitter suggest that nimbleTV has been reactivating accounts for a few days now. Everything still matches my old guess that somebody (NFL? broadcast networks?) leaned on Dish to cut off nimbleTV to block out-of-market viewing, so Dish whipped out its “unauthorized retailer” card because it was shocked, shocked that nimbleTV was selling subscriptions that way. If anyone ever comments on the record about that, I’ll let you know.

An old acquaintance of mine had wondered whether nimbleTV was account stacking. That’s the practice of adding another receiver to your Dish account, running the cord to your next-door neighbor and splitting the bill. (Account stacking is unlawful and dumb considering the small savings and real risks from such a setup.) Theoretically, a company could get Dish subscriptions for a couple hundred receivers, copy and store all the programming, then serve thousands of customers while pocketing their full subcription fees. Before the stoppage, it was easy to answer that question, because Dish billed each nimbleTV subscriber separately. Now I still don’t suspect account stacking, but I’ve got no way to refute it. So congratulations to nimbleTV for clawing its way back to life. I sure hope it’s legal.