Internet TV vitals fade as OnCue’s creator leaves Verizon after only five months

oncue creator erik hugger leaves verizon five months huggers

If you don’t remember Intel’s OnCue system, there’s good reason. The over-the-top device that promised to combine succinct TV programming, apps, and mobile delivery to create “the best Internet television service ever” was shelved by Intel, and sold to Verizon before it ever hit the market. Now the man behind OnCue, Erik Huggers, is leaving his surrogate parent company after only five months, signaling more uncertainty for the service’s lofty goals. 

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Huggers had kind words for his short-term employer, saying he had no issues with management at Verizon, and implicitly promising the OnCue system will continue to be developed in one form or another. “The technology is great, the team is great, the future is secure, the dream lives on. It’s time to hand the baby over to someone else,” Huggers said.

Still, while Verizon representatives also told Reuters that the company would “strategically utilize the OnCue technology and talent going forward,” Huggers’ departure after such little time to redeploy his “baby” doesn’t bode well for the system’s future as it was originally designed. Verizon has reportedly made plans to integrate at least some of the technology from the system into further expansion of its FiOS fiber optic TV service, but just how much of the original system will be left remains in doubt.

Before dumping OnCue for between $200-500 million in January, Intel’s new system looked to many like an innovative alternative to the bloated TV packages and bundles offered by satellite and cable providers. Offering a streamlined service for live TV and streaming over any Internet connection, OnCue was believed to be a potential roadmap for the future of TV, especially appealing to younger viewers, and the cord-cutter set.

However, while OnCue boxes were already being beta tested in Intel employee homes in late 2013, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich mysteriously shuttered the service and put up a “for sale” sign.

The reasons for Intel’s ejection just before liftoff are still unknown. At the time of the sale, many speculated that Intel was having trouble securing licensing deals from content providers, who in turn were ostensibly reticent to upset their relationships with cable and satellite providers by backing a more nimble competitor from outside the inner circle. In other words, OnCue would upset the status quo, and massive cable and satellite providers pressured content providers to stay away.

But a recent report by Multi-channel News disputes those claims, outlining less foreboding reasons for OnCue’s implosion. The report claims that sources familiar with the matter said Intel had no trouble inking distribution deals, but gave up its plans for the service over fears that the chip designer would be unable to reach “milestones and other commitments” required by those deals.

Content providers demand big distribution, and Intel’s lack of experience or a ready customer base seems to have put the company in a weakened position – it’s not easy learning to surf amongst the big waves of the pay-TV industry.

And while large service providers like Dish Network, DirecTV, and Comcast are all reportedly working on their own form of OTT video distribution, those services will no doubt be friendly to the current TV paradigm, requiring some sort of status quo subscription for access. For now, the future of Internet TV is opaque at best.

As for Huggers, the former BBC exec and OnCue mastermind will likely be weighing his options elsewhere in the ever-evolving industry he’s helped to shape. Wherever he ends up may well have a notable impact on the future of digital media, so we will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Home Theater

Plex is the latest player to contemplate the subscription streaming game

With massive reach thanks to its client app being supported virtually every media device on the planet, Plex is now looking at the future of its media curation platform. A future that may include free and subscription services.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.
Home Theater

How much are the initials ‘LV’ worth? $700 if you put them on your earphones

If you're looking for truly wireless earbuds that make as much of a statement about the state of your finances as they do about your high-tech street cred, Louis Vuitton's Horizon earbuds fit the $995 bill.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (February 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in January and February, from new original series to classic films.

Netflix’s latest price increase heralds the end of streaming’s golden age

Netflix’s recent price rise is just the latest in a string of signs that streaming’s golden age is nearly over. As more services enter the fray, content will be further partitioned, signaling the end of streaming’s good old days.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.

Need a smart speaker? Amazon knocks $50 off Sonos Beam soundbar with Alexa

If you're looking to add some oomph to your home audio setup, then through February 3, the Alexa-enabled Sonos Beam is on sale for $50 off, bringing this excellent smart sound bar down to just $349 on Amazon.
Home Theater

Walmart abandons its plans for a streaming Netflix killer

Rumored plans for a Walmart owned, Vudu-labeled Netflix streaming killer have been shelved according to a new report from CNBC. The billions it would have needed to invest in order to compete apparently gave the mega retailer cold feet.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Yamaha’s MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable spreads analog joy throughout your home

It can be tough to listen to your favorite analog tunes anywhere besides the room where your turntable is located. With its MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable, Yamaha allows you to stream your tunes throughout your home.