If you have a DVR and cable or satellite TV service, you probably have hours of programming that you can watch only when you're at home where your DVR is located. If you've ever wanted to access those DVR recordings from another location, NimbleTV can help you out. NimbleTV is a cloud-based DVR for cable TV subscribers. What Aereo tried to do for over-the-air broadcasts (until this week's Supreme Court decision), NimbleTV is doing for cable.
NimbleTV lets you select the shows you want to record, then access the recordings through your Roku or mobile device. This frees users from being able to watch their recordings only when they're connected to a physical DVR at their home.
You can try out the service with a free plan that lets you watch and record shows from 14 networks, including Bloomberg Television, Current, C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2, BYUTV, and QVC and HSN. A lite plan is available for New York Metro customers of Verizon FiOS, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, and RCN, with Los Angeles and Chicago planned for future access.
For the rest of the country, you will need to sign up for the Pro Plan if you want to get content beyond what is available for free. On the Pro Plan, you select a package of 20+, 40+, or 90+ channels for around $30 to $85 per month. Pro Plan packages include include History, TBS, The Weather Channel, TLC, Food Network, and other staples of the cable world. You can also add on Cinemax, Starz, Showtime, Fox Soccer Plus, or HBO for $14 to $19 per month.
Each plan also includes a set number of DVR hours: 20 hours for the 20+ channel plan, and 90 hours for the higher plans. You can also purchase additional DVR hours. Ten additional hours will set you back $5 per month, while 300 hours goes for $22.
Outside of New York Metro, you're actually purchasing a subscription to Dish Network, but without any hardware to receive the Dish satellite feed. Instead, NimbleTV is delivering your shows over the Internet to your Roku-connected TV or other compatible device. So how do NimbleTV prices compare to buying directly from Dish? The lowest-priced NimbleTV package offers 20+ channels with 20 DVR hours for $29.98 per month. The lowest-priced Dish package offers 55+ channels at an everyday price of $32.99 per month, but Dish is currently offering this package for $19.99 per month. But that Dish offer doesn't include HD programming or equipment fees, while the NimbleTV package doesn't include local channels.
If you're trying to decide between NimbleTV and a cable or satellite package, it's hard to do a direct price comparison. You'll have to account for differences in available channels, equipment fees, and the number of DVR hours you'll need. However, most NimbleTV users probably aren't going to subscribe based on price alone. The biggest benefit of NimbleTV is access to the cloud-based DVR service. You'll be able to access your recordings from any Roku-connected TV by simply installing the NimbleTV channel and logging into your account.
How well does NimbleTV perform? On the free account, I experienced intermittent freezing on my Roku XS until the device crashed and rebooted. I tried another live show and it played fine for 2 or 3 minutes then dropped me back to the main menu. On my Roku 3, though, NimbleTV has performed flawlessly. I was given the opportunity to try out a paid version of the service and had no problems watching HD shows on several different channels. And the shows were the promised HD-quality; there was no discernible difference in what I saw through NimbleTV and what I get through AT&T Uverse.
If you're thinking of subscribing, sign up for a free account and spend some time with that first, just to ensure that your device and your Internet connection speed will give satisfactory performance. If they do, and you're looking for access to your recorded shows outside of your home, then you should give NimbleTV strong consideration.
NimbleTV is a private Roku channel. You won't find it in the Roku Channel Store, but can add it by visiting the RokuGuide.com NimbleTV page. Read this article for more information on private channels and how to add them to your Roku device.
A short preview of NimbleTV on Roku, under the free subscription plan, can be viewed below.