Aha! Remember on Halloween when I noticed nimbleTV experimenting with digital sub-channels from over-the-air TV? At the time, I wondered how it could ever stream those channels while keeping their broadcasters happy. We got the answer yesterday when nimbleTV announced that these channels are available for folks who subscribe to certain New York City-based pay-TV providers. For as little as $3.99/month, these subscribers can also subscribe to nimbleTV’s cloud-based DVR and worldwide delivery system.
I’d never seen such a PR push from nimbleTV. The @nimbleTV Twitter account fired up with its first tweets since July, when its epic takedown by Dish changed how it does business. NimbleTV founder and CEO Anand Subramanian emerged for interviews with selected media outlets. “TV today is everywhere — it’s all over the place, and it’s a mess,” Subramanian told The Hollywood Reporter. “Our goal is to make TV easy again for consumers, while doing it in a way that supports the industry. Our approach simply improves existing pay TV — it does not displace it.”
Most reports of the new service characterized it as providing another way to get “pay-TV” channels. But take a look at exactly which channels nimbleTV will sell. Customers from Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, RCN, and FiOS will get the major broadcast networks plus Cozi TV, Livewell, PBS Kids, Antenna, this, CUNY TV and a few others. What these channels all have in common is that they’re all carried in these systems’ TV packages, and that they’re all broadcast over the air. Instead of getting nimbleTV for a bedroom TV, a lot of New Yorkers could just get an OTA antenna. (Maybe OTA TV is a secret after all.)
NimbleTV says it doesn’t have official deals with anybody, so it logically follows that it has its own OTA antenna and is feeding that signal to those cable subscribers. Since the cable systems have paid any necessary retransmission consent fees, the broadcasters might not object as strenuously as they do to Aereo. Subramanian repeated his mantra during the launch interviews. “No one’s getting harmed here. Everyone’s getting paid.”
None of this affects nimbleTV’s existing Dish Network-based service for folks who aren’t NYC cable customers, or who maybe just want a wider variety of channels. As I wrote a couple of months ago, a Dish PR contact told me that “What nimbleTV is doing, Dish regards as illegal.” Subramanian told the Los Angeles Times yesterday that the issue had been resolved.
After months of silence, it’s good to see nimbleTV’s people communicating again, dropping info-nuggets such as almost 80,000 subscribers in July, which is what Subramanian told Variety. I think nimbleTV is a great service, and I hope to hear more about what’s going on there.