While video lovers still wait for the promise of getting their pay TV on every screen they own, an emerging New York start-up is launching a beta service that it says will do just that. NimbleTV — which is backed by Greycroft Partners and Tribeca Venture Partners as well as the Tribune Company — is offering an online TV platform that allows a customer of a paid TV subscription plan to get their content streamed to them wherever they are.
It’s sort of like Slingbox and a DVR without the need for boxes. Users would pay their regular subscription fees to the TV providers that are working with NimbleTV. NimbleTV would tack on another charge, perhaps $20 a month, to stream that content using its online software. Users would also get unlimited DVR storage as well as a social recommendation tools through NimbleTV.
It’s unclear which TV providers are signed up for the service, which is starting out in New York first. During the current test-phase, NimbleTV will offer more than two dozen channels that the company will pay for. This summer, NimbleTV will start allowing customer to sign up for satellite service using its software, according to the New York Times. Exact pricing will be announced at the time as the public launch this summer.
NimbleTV is trying to steer clear of lawsuits that have plagued fellow New York TV start-up Aereo, which launched in February in New York with a somewhat similar offer of bringing broadcast TV to online and mobile users. Aereo is now facing a host of lawsuits from broadcasters, who are claiming copyright infringement. NimbleTV is hoping that by keeping the pay relationship intact between a user and a cable or satellite company (and by extension broadcasters) they will be able to avoid getting sued.
Cable providers have talked up the promise of TV Everywhere, but have only limited results to show so far. Cablevision and Time Warner let users access their TV packages on various devices but you have to be at home to watch it. Comcast in February introduced a new streaming on-demand service called Xfinity Streampix, which will bring more library content to subscribers that pay for its high-end double- and triple-play packages. HBO’s Go app let users access HBO content on mobile devices. But the true promise of getting an entire pay TV package on any device is still not a reality for users.
I imagine that a lawsuit from distributors is probably in NimbleTV’s future. That’s what some of the investors are also expecting, said the New York Times. Even though TV Everywhere hasn’t quite fulfilled its vision, it’s hard to believe that big cable providers will take kindly to an upstart looking to do what they haven’t been able to accomplish. But if NimbleTV can strike a deal with a satellite TV provider, that might be an opening to bring the service to consumers.
But the push by start-ups like NimbleTV suggest we might see more progress on TV Everywhere at some point. NimbleTV, Aereo and Skitter, a new service that brings live TV to Roku boxes, are showing people they can deliver TV Everywhere if given a chance.