The revolution may be televised, but it’s still unclear which content providers will have the live feed. Right now, incumbent cable providers are probably the best bet. They’re increasingly facing competition from Internet-based solutions, though, and Intel could soon join those ranks. According to the Wall Street Journal, Intel is working on an IP TV service that could hit the US by the end of the year.
Intel already makes the hardware inside the set-top boxes offered by some cable providers, and it looks like the chip giant intends to do the same for its own service. Media companies have also been asked for "rate cards" that outline pricing for channels and on-demand content. However, it doesn’t look like any content deals have been struck just yet. There’s no word on whether the service would be compatible with Intel-based PCs, either.
Getting content providers to play ball is surely Intel’s greatest challenge. Already, the rumor mill suggests Apple is struggling to convince media companies to sign up for its own TV venture. Content providers probably aren’t keen on supporting any shift that might undermine their businesses, a fact underscored by CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. In a discussion about providing CBS content for an Apple TV service, Moonves cited the need to protect CBS’s existing revenue streams and told Steve Jobs, "You know more than me about 99 percent of things but I know more about the television business."
Here’s the thing, Moonves: everything you know about the television business means little if you don’t understand the Internet. The popularity of Hulu, Netflix, and other online services proves there’s demand for alternatives to the traditional model. Whether it’s Intel, Apple, or a patchwork of different solutions, the days of traditional television are numbered.