An Intel spokesman said on Friday that the company's media arm is opening an office in Los Angeles's Santa Monica and in New York's Nolita as part of the company's efforts to launch a streaming TV service later this year. This will bring the chip maker closer to the networks and production studios as it works to iron out deals for live TV and on-demand content.
The move to open up two new TV-dedicated offices is seen as a sign that Intel remains committed to see this project bloom into a full commercial project that has some cable operators pitting media companies and networks against the chip maker. Some industry insiders even believe that Intel won't have the ability to successfully create a business that will challenge the likes of Time Warner Cable and Comcast.
However, back in July Intel Media hired on former Microsoft and VMware cloud-computing expert Moe Khosravy as head of software and user experiences. This was after the newly-appointed Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stated that the company plans to take a slow, cautious approach to television, which is outside the company's comfort zone of developing desktop processors and mobile SoCs.
Currently, Intel Media has around 375 people working on the TV business that will be distributed through the company's own set-top boxes and the Internet. Reports surfaced in June that Intel Media was currently alpha-testing the product in more than 2,000 homes of Intel employees. Yet as of June, the company still hadn't landed any solid deals despite offering to pay sizable premiums over traditional cable rates.
After months of speculation, Intel finally admitted to developing a streaming TV service back in February. Intel Media VP and general manager Eric Huggers said that the Intel-powered set-top box would sport a camera that could detect who was in front of the TV, indicating that the company may use the tech to customize advertisements to individual customers, or limit content playback to a certain number of viewers. Then Intel Media's VP of Engineering Jim Baldwin left the company in April to pursue other opportunities, supposedly a big blow to Intel's streaming TV schedule.
Intel plans to provide smaller bundles than what’s offered via cable providers, seemingly allowing consumers to "cut the crap" that typically comes packed with cable and satellite TV subscriptions. "What consumers want is choice, control, and convenience," Huggers said earlier this year. "If bundles are bundled right, there's real value in that.... I don't believe the industry is ready for pure a la carte."
Based on the reaction to Intel, Apple and even Google, the industry doesn't seem to be ready for any change that could disrupt the current decades-old cable/network revenue system. Netflix and Hulu have certainly opened the door to the idea that customers aren't quite ready to cut the cord, but the potential services promised by the tech giants are likely leaving cable companies quaking in their boots and media providers watching with a cautious eye.
Cable companies such as Time Warner and Comcast have recently met customers half way in regards to their desire to stream content. In the case of Time Warner, its mobile app allows users to stream a set number of live TV channels, load up on-demand content, stream recorded video from Time Warner DVRs, and even change the TV's channel. Customers also have access to a desktop app that provides similar services.