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Intel Staffing Up Call Center for Internet Cable TV Service

Chipmaker’s media division has 25 Audience Care customer-service employees and plans to expand ‘substantially’ ahead of launch

Intel is building out a large call-center operation internally dubbed “Audience Care” for the launch of an Internet television service targeted for later this year — a first for the chip giant, which has never had a direct-to-consumer business before.

As the company tries to woo customers away from their current cable or satellite TV provider, customer service stands to be a critical piece of the equation. That’s especially true because Intel won’t have technicians in the field to troubleshoot problems customers will encounter.

Currently, Intel Media, the division overseeing the over-the-top TV service, has about 25 members on the Audience Care team to handle calls from employee trial users, spokesman Jon Carvill said.

“As you’d expect we will scale that substantially before we launch,” he said, through both direct hiring and with third-party providers.

Intel Media is using Salesforce.com’s web-based customer service application as well as Avaya’s call-center telecommunications system, according to job listings on its site. Company also is using Bugzilla, an open-source software bug-tracking and testing tool.

The Audience Care operation is run out of Intel’s headquarters Santa Clara, Calif., and another U.S. location “which we’ll share closer to launch,” he added.

Intel Media, headed by former BBC exec Erik Huggers, still aims to launch the Internet TV service this fall. But huge wildcard remains whether it can sign a critical mass of big-name programmers to stock the lineup with content, and delays could push the debut into 2014.

Intel has agreements in principle with several media companies but has not officially signed distribution deals, according to multiple industry sources. CBS, News Corp. and Viacom are among those that have tentative deals in place for the service, Reuters reported earlier this month.

Another issue: Large pay TV providers in some cases have programming agreements with terms that discourage networks from cutting deals with online video providers.

For now, Intel Media continues staffing up across multiple areas.

Open positions include three studio account managers, based in Santa Monica, Calif., who will manage day-to-day relationships with major and indie film studios for transactional video-on-demand and electronic sell-through content.

At the Santa Clara HQ, Intel Media is seeking a promotions manager to oversee “consumer-facing integrated promotional strategies,” working with TV and movie studio partners and advertising clients to “deliver exciting, engaging and shareable B2C (business-to-consumer) promotions.”

In addition, the unit is looking to hire a social media manager, who will run promotional campaigns across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, blogs and other sites. The social media manager will be responsible for cultivating “brand fans and celebrity” strategies.

SEE ALSO: Intel Has $2 Billion War Chest for TV Deals, But None Secured Yet

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