Intel Spills on Streaming Cable TV Plans

Sections: Streaming, TVs, Video

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Intel StreamingIntel is finally talking about its leaked streaming cable TV service, which we told you about last year. The box will feature a “beautiful industrial design,” and yes, it will come with a camera that will likely be used for connected viewing sessions (like the old Netflix app on Xbox Live), as well as using end-user recognition to target ads. According to a piece at The Verge:

Discussing Intel’s plans at the Dive into Media conference, Huggers declined to name the service, which will launch later this year. “We’re working with the entire industry to figure out how to get proper television,” Huggers says, pointing out that making the consumer box isn’t nearly as difficult as making deals to provide the content. Pressed about whether or not Intel would offer a la carte television channels or bundles of channels, Huggers said that consumers want “choice, control, and convenience,” but said that he really did “believe that there is value in bundles.” He suggested that Intel would try to do bundles “right,” and that “I don’t believe that the industry is ready for a la carte.” That apparently means creating bundles that focus on “curation” instead of “volume” — which could mean content-specific bundles.

I would interpret that as meaning that you have to buy the existing bundles of channels, but you can pick and choose the bundles you want to buy. For example, if you want Comedy Central, you’re going to have to buy BET, MTV, VH1, and their subchannels to boot. The good news is that, unless you’re scooping up sports channels, you’re probably going to save a bundle. As you can see from this 2009 chart, your cable company paying a quarter or less for the vast majority of channels. Even if you triple those fees, you’re probably still going to make out well under your current cable bill.

What’s really interesting is that this is many of the same ideas that Microsoft has been working on for years. The new Xbox is rumored to have all the same camera features (right down to using Kinect to identify viewers), and Microsoft tried for years to get streaming cable going on the system. They eventually gave up because it was simply too expensive.

The times are certainly a-changing, and Intel is probably in a better position in history to make it happen. Bringing real competition to the cable industry is going to be great for the consumer, and as long as diversity of programming is retained, I think that advertisers are going to like the ability to deliver truly targeted advertising so they aren’t wasting time and eyeball money selling a boat to a guy in the desert, or the latest Hot Wheels to a pensioner. When you taketh away you must giveth, though, and Intel — and possibly their competition — are probably on the right track to making some form of à la carte cable a reality. We’ll see what they manage when the service launches this fall.

Via: [The Verge]

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