Intel to Shake Up TV Landscape This Year

Bold talk on possible end around cable business

Intel has a sizable presence in the consumer electronics market, but outside of those old "Intel Inside" ads, consumers don't consider the chip maker on the level of an Apple, Samsung or Sony. That's about to change.

Intel is planning to launch an Internet TV this year that will distribute live TV, on-demand programming and an app platform, said Intel Media vp/gm Eric Huggers on Tuesday during All Things D's D: Dive Into Media event. "I believe we can bring an incredible television experience via the Internet to consumers," he said.

Huggers said that his team has been working directly with TV programmers on the product, though he wouldn't say whether any companies have signed content distribution agreements. The hang-up may be the product's business model. Customers would pay Intel instead of the cable companies, he said.

However Intel's hardware comes with a carrot that might attract programmers' interest. The TV will feature a front-facing camera that will be able to detect who is watching it. Huggers didn't detail the level of recognition technology, but suggested that it could distinguish between a child and an adult.

That could be a boon for programmers looking to know who's watching their shows and advertisers aiming to target their ads to specific audiences. The camera could also creep out consumers, but Huggers said they would have the option to close its shutter.

If consumers can get past the camera's creep factor, they may like Intel's plans for bundling content. While the company isn't looking to end cable companies' practice of bundling of regularly watched channels with never-seen ones, Huggers said Intel's hope is to create more intelligent bundles that serve as a form of personalized curation. 

"If the bundles are bundled right, there's real value in that opportunity to create a more flexible environment where [users] have more control than they do today," he said. "I don't believe the industry is ready for pure a la carte [programming]," in which consumers could pick and choose what channels they want."