Intel is looking to enter the streaming media market in a big way by launching its own set top box and streaming service later this year to compete with existing streaming services, all of whom are battling each other for content and subscribers.
Intel’s plan may seek to meld together on-demand shows and movies with live television broadcasts as part of a hybrid model that would not only offer content from the past, but also recently aired programs that viewers may have missed. The latter concept is essentially how BBC iPlayer works, and to a lesser extent, Hulu. BBC’s iPlayer posts a show for up to seven days after the original broadcast on any mobile device that offers the app.
There is still no word on what sort of deals Intel has managed to strike with TV providers or content owners to get both live and past programming. Other than saying that “good progress” has been made, the company has been mum on what that actually means for consumers.
It’s also not entirely clear what Intel’s real end game is with this endeavor. Is the company looking to help shake up the TV industry or is this more a marketing strategy to ensure more devices running on Intel chips get into consumers’ hands?
Time will tell eventually, but the combination of hardware and software suggests that this isn’t meant to be a gimmick or a half-hearted entry into what’s really becoming a tight battleground. The platform will be open to third-party apps, and may offer tight integration with mobile devices (regardless of what processor is under the hood) to up the ante further. The box is even said to have a camera to identify multiple users in a home for a more personalized experience.
The live TV side of this presents the most intriguing possibilities, particularly because it’s something other major streaming services don’t really do. But it seems unlikely that big cable companies wouldn’t be averse to what Intel has in mind — especially since some of them are also Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The data pipes that route all the Web traffic needed to get that live content would be even more valuable, forcing providers like Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon to either compete with Intel’s new service or isolate it by throttling users who are connected to it.
In fact, Verizon is already attempting to pave the way for those very practices by arguing in a Washington circuit court of appeals that the Open Internet rules the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) instituted violate the First Amendment because the federal government has no right to regulate the Internet.