Recently I introduced you to FilmOn, which lets you watch a variety of over-the-air TV stations free of charge. That service doesn’t ask for permission from providers: it re-broadcasts signals without permission, and as such is subject to frequent lawsuits.
NimbleTV, in contrast, is trying to do online live television legally. You can connect the service with your existing cable stations, or pay for a direct subscription to watch cable TV online.
Nimble also offers a free service. The channels offered this way are scarce, but it’s a good way to get a feel for this TV service – and worth looking into if you primarily want to watch the news.
TV, But Online
Sign up for an account and you can start watching TV immediately.
As I said before: the channels you can watch for free are (quite) limited – but more on that later. For now know that the TV watching experience is pretty good. You can use the prominent arrows, or your arrow keys, to see what’s on other channels – without leaving, or obscuring, the current channel. Or, if you prefer, you can bring up a TV guide and explore what’s on right now:
The streams load quickly – I’d say it’s faster than satellite TV but slower than cable. Quality can vary, but is frequently HD (when available).
American TV: Free And Paid PlansAs I said: the channels you get for free probably aren’t what you’re looking for. If you’re looked into LiveStation, which lets you watch live TV news online, you’ll find a similar lineup of news channels: Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, RT and CSPAN are a few examples. You’ll also find AntennaTV, which mostly airs reruns of black-and-white sitcoms.
This free package isn’t going to replace cable, or even an antenna, for most people – but the free version isn’t all that’s offered.
There are two main kinds of paid plans for US viewers. There’s “lite”, which for $4 a month gives you online access to your existing cable service (limited to New York City residents as of this writing, with Chicago apparently coming soon).
If you don’t have cable, you can use the “Pro” service to pick from three bundles of channels: 20+ channels ($30 a month), 40+ channels ($60), or 90+ channels ($85). These are similar to cable bundles – disappointingly, there are no à la carte option. You can try this option out for one week, but you’ll need to provide your credit card number to do so.
All NimbleTV plans come with a minimum 20 Hour HD-DV – you can pay for additional recording time, and record up to four shows simultaneously.
I can’t break down all the options, and they’re subject to change, but here are a few highlights. The $30 package includes Comedy Central, History and MSNBC. The $60 package includes ESPN 1 and 2, Discovery and CNN. The $85 package is the cheapest one to include Fox News and SyFy. Whether this is worthwhile to you probably depends on which package includes the channels you most care about.
Things get even more expensive if you want to add premium channels: HBO’s bundle of channels alone will run you $20.
NimbleTV’s access to cable stations can’t exactly be called cheap, but if you live in a region without cable competition it’s worth looking into for comparison’s sake. Even better: unlike cable, NimbleTV is not bound by region, meaning you can use this service to watch American TV from anywhere around the world.
Over the air stations are only offered if you have a valid New York City address (again, other cities are reportedly one the way).
IndianTV: Watch From AnywhereIf you’re Indian, or simply interested in Indian TV, there’s more to look into. You can get 20+ Indian TV channels for $15 a month.
Again, this isn’t restricted by region, meaning that with a subscription you can watch live Indian television regardless of where you live.
Supported DevicesNimbleTV primarily works using your browser. Here are the platforms their site claims to run on:
- All major desktop browsers: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, IE (9+) and Opera
- iPhone or iPad: iOS5 and higher (via browser)
- Apple TV, via Airplay
Android, notably, is not supported. I primarily tested the service using Firefox on a desktop computer, so your mileage may vary with other devices.
ConclusionWe’ve told you before: you can watch TV online legally, for free. NimbleTV lets you do some free TV watching, but is probably most useful with a paid account. Try the week free trial of the Pro version if you’re curious.
Whether that paid account is a good deal or not probably depends on what sort of deals your local cable companies are offering, which channels you care about. You’ll need to check how Nimble’s price compares to your local cable companies. You should also consider whether you prefer live television to the more affordable, on demand offerings provided by the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
How’s that math work out for you? Share your thoughts about this, and other options for watching TV online, below.