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Intel confirms entry to TV distribution biz

Chipmaker stays quiet regarding content deals

Intel finally confirmed the company’s worst-kept secret: plans to launch a virtual MSO service in the U.S. by year-end.

Erik Huggers, corporate vice president at Intel Media, teased select details at the D: Dive Into Media conference in Dana Point, Calif., on Tuesday about a device the chipmaker will bring to market by year-end that will offer a package of linear TV channels delivered via broadband.

“There’s quite a few out there but not many have actually cracked it,” Huggers said of the fleet of tech giants out there either moving into or eyeing the over-the-top TV category, including Apple, Google and Dish.

Intel had never previously confirmed numerous reports last year suggesting the company was going to provide competition to cable, satellite and telco providers of video.

But Huggers made clear Intel’s intent to offer a mix of broadcast, cable and VOD via a device powered by an Intel chip that will connect to both the TV and a broadband connection. What he stayed mum on was some key details about Intel’s strategy, including pricing, the product’s brand name and whether any deals were actually in place with content companies.

He did, however, offer some telling hints. Huggers didn’t seem to indicate Intel was looking to come in at a lower price point than incumbent pay-TV providers. To the contrary, he suggested the value-add that would be part of the Intel consumer experience would appeal to a higher end market.

“It’s not about a value play,” said Huggers. ” What I believe is what you get is a vastly superior experience. This thing looks like a leap of time in 10, 20 years that is much more personal that actually cares who you are.”

He also indicated that Intel’s device would come with a camera that would be able to perceive which viewer in a household was watching in order to customize the user experience, but would adhere to proper privacy protections.

Huggers ruled out providing consumers with the ability to cherry-pick channels but indicated Intel was seeking to offer smaller channel bundles than what is typically provided by MSOs.

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