TechCrunch writes Intel is about to release a new set-top box and a virtual cable TV service that will be rolled out on a city-by-city basis in the US. According to the website's source, Intel was frustrated with the half-assed Google TV attempts and decided to do it right by doing it themselves. The goal is to deliver a product that would appeal to people who want streaming TV access but don't want to entirely cut the cable cord and lose key content like sports. By rolling it out on a city-by-city basis, Intel will have more flexibility in negotiating licensing with reluctant content providers. More details are expected at CES.
The Wall Street Journal reported Intel’s intent to create a pay-TV service in March, and Reuters followed up in June that Intel’s box may use facial recognition to power dynamic insertion of ads, improved targeting, and performance measurement. Both noted that the stumbling block to a planned launch by the end of 2012 was an unwillingness on the part of media content providers to unbundle channels or programs and license them to Intel.
The city-by-city rollout addresses this issue, as content providers may be more willing to experiment with licensing in select markets first where they have looser deals with traditional cable providers. The plan also lets Intel work around holdouts in key markets rather than having to delay a launch entirely. Intel licensed Comcast’s Reference Design Kit in October to aid development of its TV services, so it might look to lean on that relationship and operate in Comcast markets.