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Dish Cuts NimbleTV to the Quick

Mari Silbey

NimbleTV is one of several startups trying to speed the progress of TV Everywhere. But Dish Network Corp. dealt a blow to the company earlier this month when it cut subscribers off from the TV source feeding the multi-screen video service.

As a result, NimbleTV is now scrambling to negotiate some kind of carriage deal with Dish. At the same time, it's dishing out refunds to stranded customers in its pilot New York market.

The business model for NimbleTV is quite unusual. While the company pays licensing fees to television programmers (unlike Aereo Inc.), it also relies on pay-TV providers -- in this case Dish -- for core content delivery. Specifically, NimbleTV transcodes the original video feeds from Dish, then streams them out to broadband customers over the Web for an added fee of US$20 per month. It also offers cloud-based DVR recordings of TV programs to subscribers. (See NimbleTV Takes Video Subscriptions Over the Top.)

While NimbleTV has no direct relationship with Dish, it's not really undermining the satellite TV provider's source of revenue. Customers still have to pay for Dish service before they qualify for additional features. It could even be argued that NimbleTV is making Dish's service more valuable by extending the satellite TV provider’s programming to multiple screens.

Unfortunately for the New York-based start-up, Dish doesn't agree that NimbleTV is lending a helping hand. In a statement to AllThingsD, Dish said "NimbleTV is not an authorized Dish retailer, and is not authorized by Dish to market or promote our services."

Currently, NimbleTV doesn't have its service provisioned with any other pay-TV providers, which makes it difficult to drum up fan support. After testing the service in New York, the company aims to expand to several other major U.S. cities, as well as the U.K., Germany and India. But those plans may be delayed now.

In the meantime, both the incumbent pay-TV providers and other startup companies are trying to gain traction with their own TV Everywhere services. If NimbleTV doesn't come up with a solution soon, it could find itself cut out of the market before it really gets started.

For more

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
7/23/2013 | 3:06:41 PM
re: Dish Cuts NimbleTV to the Quick
Wow, that's pretty bad, especially given all the companies in different industries it beat out. Businessweek also called it "the meanest company in America" thanks to CEO Charlie Ergen. Sprint and Clearwire employees should be happy it didn't win either acquisition bid.
User Rank: Light Beer
7/23/2013 | 8:10:32 AM
re: Dish Cuts NimbleTV to the Quick
Amidst all the interest that the likes of Sprint and T-Mobile have been showing in Dish of late, has anyone noticed that the Wall Street Journal just nominated Dish as the Worst Company in America To Work For for the second year running? http://tinyurl.com/mddtn2a
Michael Kilgore
Michael Kilgore,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/22/2013 | 7:38:28 PM
re: Dish Cuts NimbleTV to the Quick
First, thanks to AllThingsD for crediting FTABlog.com for breaking the story last week.

I really wonder why Dish cut off nimbleTV. Was it a content partner complaining about all the out-of-market viewers? (I'll bet the NFL would hate to allow a service to beam every NYC pro football game to expatriate New Yorkers for a fraction of DirecTV's price.) Was it the secret sauce that allowed more simultaneous recordings than any single Dish receiver can generate? Was it a sudden worry about copycats, so Dish wanted to carefully stake out how virtual reselling should go? I'd love to hear more about it!
User Rank: Blogger
7/22/2013 | 4:40:58 PM
re: Dish Cuts NimbleTV to the Quick
Agreed. Meanwhile, Skitter is another one of these start-ups that appears to have given up trying to go around the pay-tv providers for TV Everywhere delivery. From the looks of things, Skitter only sells directly to the providers now, although they've been very quiet for about a year. Doesn't look good for them either.
User Rank: Blogger
7/22/2013 | 2:40:13 PM
re: Dish Cuts NimbleTV to the Quick
Kinda interesting to see the shoe on the other foot as Dish Network tries to fend off a hungry young startup that's acting very aggressively. That's usually Dish's role in railing against the pay TV establishment. It will also be interesting to see if Nimble tries to go to court to gain access to the pay TV programming it desires. If you thought the Aereo case was complicated, you ain't seen nothing yet.
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