A new cloud-based TV service is launching in Chicago Wednesday enabling local cable subscribers to watch their full channel lineups live online, from any location

Commuter Shreepaad Dave (cq), 25, left, and others use their smart phones on Metra's Union Pacific North Line. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune / July 1, 2014)

A new cloud-based TV service is launching in Chicago Wednesday enabling local cable subscribers to watch their full channel lineups live online, from any location. 
 
NimbleTV, a two-year-old company funded in part by Chicago-based Tribune Media, streams basic cable programming for Comcast, RCN and AT&T U-verse subscribers at no additional charge. The service offers a virtual DVR to record shows starting at $4.99 per month, with higher-priced packages available to access premium channels such as HBO and Showtime.
 
The latest entrant into the slowly-evolving TV Everywhere landscape, NimbleTV is designed to untether cable subscribers from their set-top boxes, something that cable and satellite providers have yet to fully achieve. Comcast, for example, offers about 50 channels for live streaming through its Xfinity TV Go app. NimbleTV will serve up nearly 150 local and network channels right out of the box.
 
"TV Everywhere has been talked about for a long time,” said Anand Subramanian, founder and CEO of New York-based NimbleTV. “We have a solution where people can effectively start having that experience today.”
 
NimbleTV started providing service in New York last fall. Chicago is the company’s second market, with plans to expand to 10 cities by year’s end, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston and Dallas.
 
Subramanian declined to disclose the number of subscribers who have signed up so far in New York.
 
The service has no affiliation with any cable or satellite operator. It sets up data centers in each market to receive the localized cable programming. After authenticating subscribers, Nimble TV provides a virtual set-top box for each customer, allowing them to live stream their programming from any location on a variety of devices, including smart phones and tablets. 
 
Subramanian, 41, a serial entrepreneur whose previous ventures include ContextWeb, a pioneering online ad exchange, likens NimbleTV to a virtual Slingbox, a hardware device which taps directly into a user’s cable box to deliver remote access.  Unlike Slingbox, NimbleTV doesn’t affect the home signal, meaning remote users can watch whatever they want in real time, avoiding a virtual battle over the remote control.
 
“This is not a revolutionary product, it’s an evolutionary product,” Subramanian said. “It basically takes all the set-top boxes and wires at your home and virtualizes it in the cloud."
 
Sling, the 10-year-old California-based maker of the Slingbox, seemed to welcome the comparison and the publicity from new competitors in its space.