Dish Network Won’t Play Ball With NimbleTV

DBS Provider Shuts Off Access

NimbleTV offers a nifty way for consumers to receive subscription- TV programming on TVs, tablets and smartphones when they are at home or on the go, but its service is saddled with a fatal flaw: It requires a certain level of cooperation from a traditional pay TV provider.

Dish Network exposed that flaw earlier this month when it shut off access to NimbleTV, leaving the New York-based startup’s customers twisting in the wind.

“NimbleTV is not an authorized Dish retailer, and is not authorized by Dish to market or promote our services,” a spokesman for the satellite-TV provider said in an emailed statement.

Dish’s decision to take its ball and go home comes about 15 months after NimbleTV revealed a plan hinged on signing up for satellite or cable TV service on behalf of its customers, and managing the installation of set-top boxes at a centralized physical location.

Mimicking elements of Aereo’s broadband-TV platform, NimbleTV’s service re-encodes those pay TV signals and delivers live-TV feeds and DVR recordings via the Internet to customers. NimbleTV’s plans start at $29.99 per month and include up to 90 hours of cloud DVR storage. NimbleTV supports most major browsers, iOS devices, the Apple TV (via Airplay), and Roku boxes (via a private channel set up by NimbleTV). It recommends an Internet connection speed of 1.96 Megabits per second.

NimbleTV, whose backers include Tribune Co., is testing its concept initially in New York. It has not revealed how many subscribers have signed up so far, but a spokesman confirmed that NimbleTV plans to reimburse customers for the time they are disconnected from the service.

NimbleTV characterizes itself as a “concierge service” that connects customers with a pay TV provider of their choice, maintaining that its approach does not require authorization from Dish or other multichannel video programming distributors.

“The service has no affiliations with providers, nor does it intend to have any such relationships,” a NimbleTV spokesman said.

NimbleTV said it would soon add new provider options from the U.S. and abroad. NimbleTV’s website lists a handful of countries and U.S. cities it intends to target, including India, the United Kingdom, Germany, Dallas, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago.