A new start-up called NimbleTV wants to bring live broadcast television streaming online, whether the cable companies like it or not. The service is launching in private beta Monday allowing selected users to live stream more than 24 channels viewable on any device including smartphones, PCs, tablets, or Internet-connected TVs. NimbleTV will also feature DVR-style recording features, and the company claims you will be able to order cable packages through its service from other countries. NimbleTV's beta period, however, will include TV content from the U.S. and India. At the time of this writing NimbleTV was still accepting private beta sign-ups on its website.
How NimbleTV Works
NimbleTV is kind of like Slingbox without the box. The basic idea is that you would subscribe to a cable package offered by a standard cable provider through NimbleTV. You would then be able to stream your cable subscription via NimbleTV's Web-based service. On top of your cable subscriber fee, however, you would also pay NimbleTV for its online services such as online streaming, storing recorded television and setting-up your cable subscription. It's not clear how much NimbleTV will charge, but The New York Times is guessing the service will be priced at about $20 on top of the cable subscriber package. It's not clear if current cable subscribers would be able to pay NimbleTV to bring their TV subscription online.
Too Good To Be True?
While NimbleTV sounds like a great idea, it's hard to believe the company won't be dragged into court by broadcasters and major cable providers in the coming weeks. The cable industry is already going after Aereo, another online TV streaming service available only in New York City that first announced its plans in mid-February. Aereo invested in tiny television antennas that sit in a data center and pick up live television broadcasts. The company can then pass those broadcasts on to you via the Web for $12 per month. But about two weeks after launching, two groups of major broadcasters that include Fox, Univision, and PBS filed two separate lawsuits against the fledgling company alleging copyright infringement, according to TechCrunch. In a blog post, Aereo said the two suits were without merit.
NimbleTV, on the other hand, is trying to bring TV packages online the way Comcast and Time Warner Cable promised to do in 2009 with their TV Everywhere concept. But it's unclear if NimbleTV has working agreements with cable companies to help them sell these packages and put them online. NimbleTV CEO Anand Subramanian told The New York Times it did not need the blessing of the cable providers and that his company's service complies with the law. We should find out relatively soon if cable providers agree with Subramanian's assessment.
Regardless of whether Aereo and NimbleTV survive, it's clear that Americans are looking to watch more video online. A recent report from metrics firm comScore said the average U.S. Internet user watched 21.7 hours of online video. That's a dramatic increase from the previous year when the average American watched just 14.8 hours of Internet video.