Intel Is Reportedly Going To Destroy The Cable Model By Offering People The Ability To Subscribe To Individual Channels

Intel is reportedly on the cusp of delivering something that consumers around the world have been wanting for a long, long time.

Kelly Clay at Forbes reports Intel is going to blow up the cable industry with its own set-top box and an unbundled cable service.

Clay says Intel is planning to deliver cable content to any device with an Internet connection. And instead of having to pay $80 a month for two hundred channels you don’t want, you’ll be able to subscribe to specific channels of your choosing.

Here’s the key paragraph:

This set-top box, said by industry insiders to be available to a limited beta of customers in March, will offer cable channels delivered “over the top” to televisions anywhere there is an Internet connection regardless of provider. (Microsoft Mediaroom, for example, requires AT&T’s service, and Xbox has limited offerings for Comcast and FiOS customers). For the first time, consumers will be able to subscribe to content per channel, unlike bundled cable services, and you may also be able to subscribe per show as well. Intel’s set-top box will also have access to Intel’s already existing app marketplace for apps, casual games, and video on demand. Leveraging the speed of current broadband, and the vast shared resources of the cloud, Intel plans to give customers the ability to use “Cloud DVR”, a feature intended to allow users to watch any past TV show at any time, without the need to record it ahead of time, pause live tv, and rewind shows in progress.

This is a holy-grail of sorts for people that subscribe to cable.

We’ve been skeptical of Intel’s ability to make a dent in the TV market. If it somehow manages to deliver this unbundled channel option, we’re more optimistic Intel could have success.

Before anyone gets too excited, Janko Roettgers at GigaOm is skeptical it happens. Roettgers knows the TV business very well.

The reason its unlikely to happen is that content companies don’t really want to see cable blown up. It’s been very good to them.

Last summer, Peter Kafka at All Things D poured cold water on the idea of Intel unbundling. Not only is going to be hard to make it happen, it’s unclear if it would even save money for cable subscribers:

Those bundles are core to today’s TV ecosystem. And the TV guys insist that consumers really don’t want “a la carte” programming, because if they do, the channels/shows they like today will end up costing much, much more.

Disney, for instance, charges TV distributors about $5 for every subscriber that gets ESPN. And, by some estimates, only about 25 percent of cable customers actually watch ESPN on a regular basis. So if you unbundled ESPN, the per-subscriber cost might shoot up to $20 or more, to account for the 75 percent drop in its customer base.

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