Dish Network says nimbleTV service is "illegal"

Hopper mascot at Dish Network's CEDIA booth

Hopper mascot at Dish Network’s CEDIA booth

“What nimbleTV is doing, Dish regards as illegal.” That’s what a press relations contact for Dish told me this afternoon immediately after consulting with Dish executives at their booth at CEDIA Expo. I had asked Dave Arland about the nature of Dish’s relationship with nimbleTV, prompting him to withdraw to a lengthy discussion before returning with that short answer.

When I pointed out that Dish had already shut down nimbleTV once and asked why Dish didn’t simply continue cutting off its service, Arland replied, “It’s not that simple.” He said that nimbleTV had “workarounds” and declined to elaborate further.

That description of nimbleTV contradicts its often-stated goal of keeping its programmers fully paid and therefore happy. I’ve reached out to nimbleTV for a reaction to today’s Dish comment, but at the time of this post, I haven’t received a reply.

Clearly something happened in the weeks between Dish cutting off nimbleTV and the resumption of nimbleTV’s Dish-based packages. I had theorized that Dish required certain changes that nimbleTV implemented in the interim – local channels restricted to in-market subscribers, and fewer simultaneous recordings. There was one other change that I hadn’t mentioned, one that Dish would be unlikely to request. In my bottom-tier package, drawing from channels in Dish’s Welcome Pack, my non-local channels such as Comedy Central and TBS are now in HD. Before the service interruption, nimbleTV had delivered those in SD, matching the quality that direct subscribers to the Welcome Pack would see. If Dish mandated those changes, why allow HD upgrades to Welcome Pack subscribers? If Dish didn’t mandate those other changes, why did nimbleTV make them?

If Dish is right, could it have been that nimbleTV’s programmers somehow created some “workarounds” to continue offering service despite Dish’s desire to cut them off? Is nimbleTV account stacking, running too many receivers on each Dish account and letting too many subscribers view the results? I have a hard time believing that nimbleTV’s slow, careful buildup would culminate in aw-heck-with-it illegal access. NimbleTV could clear the air by simply telling the world how it delivers all those Dish-originated channels to all those streaming customers. In the absence of those facts, I’m confused as usual about nimbleTV. And even now, I sure hope it’s legal.