NimbleTV streams a superstation for free

NimbleTV screen shotEarlier this year, our old friend NimbleTV added service from several cable systems in India. Since CEO Anand Subramanian is from Bombay, I always figured that was NimbleTV’s primary goal, and from what I can tell, it’s a strong competitor to DishWorld’s packages for Hindi and other Indian languages.

Then some time last month, NimbleTV quietly introduced a free tier* of US-based, English-language channels. (Of course, NimbleTV does almost everything quietly.) The most remarkable of these is New York superstation WPIX and its two digital over-the-air sub-channels, which carry This TV and Antenna TV. Since these are the only OTA channels included, and since NimbleTV has always stressed paying for its content, I’d guess that NimbleTV must have worked a deal with WPIX.

This could be a milestone in the history of television. WPIX went on the air in 1948. It later became known as the TV home for Yankees baseball games and was distributed via satellite in 1978 as one of the first superstations. As one of the five federally recognized superstations, WPIX is still carried via satellite to Dish Network subscribers across the US and to Bell TV subscribers in Canada. Now WPIX might be the first major OTA station to sanction full-time internet-based delivery of its signals. Assuming again that WPIX sanctioned all of this.

There are a few drawbacks and oddities to NimbleTV’s free tier. The main handicap is the lack of recording ability. Viewers get to watch any channel live, and that’s it. All of the record buttons are still in place, but attempts to use them only prompt suggestions to upgrade. The strangest part of the tier is NimbleTV’s numbering scheme. Bloomberg is shown as 7012, WPIX is 7030, and the other 13 channels are numbered consecutively 7032-7044. That doesn’t match the numbering from any other source, so I think it marks the first time that NimbleTV invented its own numbers. If you know anything about it, such as what was supposed to be Channel 7031, please leave a comment to let us know.

Another nice benefit of the (presumed) WPIX deal is that those channels were added to my basic $30/month plan, based mostly on Dish’s Welcome Pack. I presume that they were also added to NimbleTV’s higher levels of service, corresponding roughly to Dish’s Top 120 and Top 200. Those channels might even be available to subscribers who don’t get Dish’s NYC broadcast channels set, which includes WPIX but not This, Antenna or any other sub-channel.

As a way to introduce prospective customers to NimbleTV’s innovative service, this seems like a smart idea. For any viewer interested in checking out these channels, I can’t see any downside. Click the link and go for it!

Update: Thanks to a tip from a commenter here, I see the WPIX is now gone from NimbleTV’s free tier, less than a month after it started, yet This and Antenna remain. Weird!

*The lineup of the free tier: WPIX, This, Antenna, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, CCTV News, BYU, NASA, Free Speech, C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2, Pentagon, HSN and QVC.