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Aereo Is Offline, but NimbleTV Says It Can Bring You TV on the Web

For free. Sort of.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

What if you could watch TV over the Web, anywhere you wanted to watch it?

The TV business calls this idea “TV Everywhere,” and says it’s coming, but we’ve been waiting five years. Aereo wanted to try doing this, but the Supreme Court wouldn’t play along.

Meanwhile, a low-profile startup keeps plugging away at this idea, and so far no one has put a permanent stop to its efforts.

NimbleTV has gone through several incarnations, but here’s the most current one: If you’re a pay TV subscriber in New York or Chicago, it will allow you to watch some channels — mostly broadcast ones — on a Web-connected device for free.

If you want to store TV shows on a cloud-based DVR, or if you want access to all the channels you can get on your TV set, you’ll need to pay. Fees start at $5 a month and could climb above $30 a month.

There are several asterisks to this offer, but it’s taxing to type them, let alone read them, so feel free to ask the company yourself if you’re interested. (Heads up: I find getting the company to explain the details of its plans to be a bit of work as well.)

Bigger question: If you’re already signed up for pay TV, will you be willing to pay NimbleTV more to watch it on the Web?

There are presumably some people who value access to mobile TV, though I’m not sure how many people are that committed to the idea. Aereo was not going gangbusters before it went on hiatus.

But a meaningful part of NimbleTV’s pitch is aimed at travelers who want to watch stuff they would normally get at home, like local sports.

“Watch globally, subscribe locally,” says the service’s site. Maybe there are lots of those people.

Then again, if there do turn out to be lots of those people, then the TV Industrial Complex may have something to say about NimbleTV after all.

TV programming typically comes with lots of windows and restrictions, which the TV guys view as ways to increase the value of their content. Verizon, for instance, has paid a lot of money for the exclusive right to deliver NFL games to your phone this fall. If Nimble attracts lots of eyeballs for this stuff, I’m assuming it will attract lawyers as well.

Then again, Nimble has been out in the open for a while. So far, so good, says CEO Anand Subramanian. “We’ve been actively doing this for quite some time. Everybody and anybody who needs to know about us knows about us.”

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