Sources close to Intel Media's plans to launch a streaming TV service by the end of the year claim that the company has approached Amazon and Samsung for funding and distribution. This suggests that if Intel doesn't find a strategic partner soon, the set-top box project may be scrapped. Sources also claim that Intel has still yet to lock down a single major content provider.
Talk about a possible streaming TV service from Intel, now dubbed as "OneCue", came long before the company officially announced the project back in February. Intel Media VP and general manager Eric Huggers said earlier this year 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.
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 alpha-testing the product in more than 3,000 homes of Intel employees. Yet by then, the company still hadn't landed any solid deals despite offering to pay sizable premiums over traditional cable rates.
"We’re being cautious. We’re experts in silicon, we’re experts in mobility, in driving Moore’s law," said the newly-appointed CEO Brian Krzanich in a June interview. "But we are not experts in the content industry and we’re being careful."
Despite not landing any deals, Intel Media reportedly opened two new offices – Los Angeles's Santa Monica and New York's Nolita -- as part of the company's efforts to launch a streaming TV service later this year. This move would bring the chip maker closer to the networks and production studios as it worked to iron out deals for live TV and on-demand content.
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."
Of the two possible backers in question, Samsung will likely be the primary candidate given its lineup of Smart TVs. Amazon, on the other hand, is the least likely given it's currently developing its own set-top-box. Unlike Intel, Amazon has already established relationships with media providers as seen with Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant Video. The company is even investing in its own content such as movies and TV shows.
Yet given that Intel has established two additional offices for establishing its OneCue service, giving up on the project doesn't look to be in the immediate future. Unfortunately Intel has a hard battle to fight: against media companies fearing new waters after decades-long relationships with cable and satellite TV companies, and distributors like Verizon who are already offering or working on similar services.
Apple is already learning that it simply can't command a new living room service into existence like it did with the iPhone and iPad. A slow, cautious approach is needed to change the TV viewing experience, hence the slow evolution of its Apple TV set-top-box, as seen with the latest update.