Streaming television shows, sports, and movies are a big part of what most of us do with our connected devices. We do so on our phones and tablets or even gatting special set top boxes like Google or Apple TV. Buying an extra box in order to connect your TV though has been more of a niche idea at best, especially with many gaming systems and even televisions themselves capable of running apps that will stream content. The latest entry into this crowded and very scattered medium will be Intel, who will be offering their new TV service on both a set top box and mobile devices.
Speaking at D: Dive Into Media on Tuesday, corporate VP of Intel Media Erik Huggers confirmed that the chip company will be jumping into streaming services with both feet. Apparently Intel has created a new division, comprised of people hired from Apple, Netflix and Google, called Intel Media. The goal of this group is to reinvent the internet television platform. Huggers said: "For the first time, we will deliver a new consumer electronics product under a new brand. We'll offer consumers a box, and they'll buy this directly from us. It'll be an Intel-powered device with fantastic industrial design. But it's not just a device. We're working with the entire industry to figure out how we get live TV to consumers over the Internet."
This new service will offer an amalgam of services for an "all in one solution" to suit the consumers needs. That means in addition to on demand streaming the service will also offer live television as well as "proper catch up" television. The "catch up" option would possibly be similar to the BBC iPlayer that offers every second of BBC programming, including radio and television, for seven days after it airs.
The hardware, or "box", will obviously be powered by an Intel chip but also has a decent gimmick if implemented properly, a camera. This camera will supposedly watch the watchers so to speak, in an attempt to learn viewing habits and personalize the way the users watch television. According to Huggers: "My kids may watch programming geared toward them, and I'll watch programming geared toward me. If there's a way to distinguish who is watching what, advertisers can then target ads at the proper parties."
But what's a connected box without content right? This has been the problem for everyone from Apple to Amazon, and Intel faces similar hurdles. Licensing TV shows and movies has been, for lack of a better word, a bitch, and Intel will be up against that wall as well. Take Google for example. Even though they hired the content chief from Netflix, it was almost a year before they had 3,000 movies to rent, that was obviously not even close to their competition.
One way that Intel appears to be leaning is having the consumer purchase "bundles". These bundles would appear to be the same thing you buy from your basic cable providers such as a "sports package" or when you get like seven HBO channels. Huggers added "I believe that if bundles are… bundled correctly, they add tremendous value." This is still the dinosaur model, however he did leave the door slightly cracked for a service that people have been wanting for a while, a la carte programming. Imagine just being able to only buy the channels you want rather than be burdened with paying for all the home shopping channels you're stuck with on basic cable. That's something that would make the Intel service stand out from the crowd.
Huggers also spoke of making the platform available for mobile, although he cautioned that it would take some time. "I absolutely and completely believe in the world of multi platform … anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Consumers and audiences expect that nowadays. Yes, we will make services available on other sockets, on other devices, and on other products just like at the BBC. But to get from nothing to 650 devices at the BBC literally took four years. That doesn't happen overnight, but yeah, you bet, that's completely part of the strategy."
The final question is also one of the bigger ones and that price. What's this all cost? well apparently at this point it's not going to be any cheaper than what you pay for cable or some of the other streaming services. That makes it a tough sell especially for a new platform.
Huggers finished up the interview by saying "We have assembled a team of people who have literally dedicated their careers to digital media. At the end of the day, what I would say to skeptics is it's fine to be skeptical. But at least give us the benefit of the doubt and judge us on the basis of what we ship, nothing else."
I currently have two connected TV's in my home, a Vizio with apps and another hooked up with a Logitech revue. Even though they both leave a lot to be desired, something would have to blow me out of the water in order to replace my current setup. Maybe the Intel box is it, but the jury is still out. So what say you? Is this something that would make you ditch your already connected TV's? Maybe this will be your first foray into the platform. Let us know in the comments.