The first two TV adventures did not play out very well, but there is now speculation that Intel will be making a third attempt to get its foot into the highly attractive and profitable consumer market. According to TechCrunch, Intel will be offering a set top box, which makes sense as a reference platform, as well as its own virtual cable TV service, which does not make any sense at all.
The report claims that the service will be rolled out city-by-city. The hardware rumors are supported by a string of announcements and reports, including Intel's licensing of Comcast's reference design kit. Additionally, it is no secret that the failures of Viiv and Google TV were painful for the company, but revealed Intel's weakness in being able to relate its technology to content providers. Viiv, for example, was anchored in influential Hollywood celebrities such as Morgan Freeman and Tom Hanks, both of which were not able to help Intel gain enough credibility that streaming content could be monetized and flourish on a PC. Clickstar, a joint venture between Freeman and Intel failed without releasing a single major piece of content to Viiv-branded Intel PCs.
This time around it seems that Intel could be promoting a subscription TV service directly for the TV and gain greater influence to push its chips into the set top box market. Rumor has it that the service would combine existing content - similar to movie rental and subscription services like Netflix or Redbox - into a service that automatically comes with its set top boxes.
Netflix' troubles to acquire content have shown just how difficult it is to deal with Hollywood and it is unlikely that Intel will be able to change that situation, especially when we remember that Intel had, so far, zero success in scoring any notable content deal with content holders. It would be highly surprising if Intel moved into the content business once again.