Intel to Offer Cable TV Service?

Chipmaker Intel has been in the news recently, as rumor has it they are developing a new set-top TV box designed to deliver cable television channels to households across America.  But as Apple and Google have already discovered, major obstacles face any company trying to displace existing cable and satellite television players.  But if Intel cable TV is launched in 2013, what can you expect if you are interested in the service?

A la carte channel choices were something rumored to be at the top of Intel’s wish list, but that doesn’t seem likely.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has already hit a snag in that content providers do not want to shake up their current business model.  Companies like Disney and Viacom bundle several channels in a package and then allow distributors like Comcast and DIRECTV to transmit them to subscribers for a set fee each month.  The model provides end users with hundreds of channels, but oftentimes most are ignored or watched infrequently.

A la carte pricing would allow subscribers to pick and choose the channels they want – hopefully cutting their monthly bill along the way by getting rid of the stuff they don’t watch.  As you can imagine, both the content providers and the distributors are looking to protect their cash-cows.  Any real changes in the way cable and satellite television services are bought and sold has been blocked by the forces controlling the market.  But with rates being raised again by DIRECTV, DISH, and U-verse in just the last few weeks, customers are looking for alternatives.

Intel certainly faces an uphill battle – their set top box was rumored to be part of next week’s Consumer Electronics Show, but now industry watchers are expecting a delay.   A true web TV experience would also be hampered in many areas by slow internet speeds, something that would eliminate their web TV product from consideration altogether in many areas.

Other big name companies with huge stacks of cash are also trying to enter the Web TV market – namely Apple.  If Intel cable TV service is going to become a reality, their device is going to have to knock the socks off of the consumer.



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