Intel’s Internet TV Plans Are Looking More Vaporous

Web-based cable alternative could be abandoned if Intel can't find help.

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Yi-ting Chung / Reuters

Intel’s ambitious plan to shake up the television industry is in trouble, as the chipmaker reportedly turns to outside help to save the effort.

All Things D reports that Intel has talked to Amazon and Samsung about a potential partnership. The idea is that either company could provide “cash and distribution” as Intel tries to secure deals with TV networks. So far, Intel hasn’t signed a single major TV programmer to its service.

Another report by Variety claims that Intel has also talked to Netflix, but negotiations have never gotten serious. Variety says that any plans to launch a TV service will be pushed back to 2014.

Both reports claim that if Intel can’t find a partner or some other solution, it could abandon the project.

Intel announced its TV plans in February, saying it would provide cable-like channel bundles over the web. Although the pricing wasn’t going to be much different from cable, Intel was hoping to offer new features, such as a smarter interface and an online DVR with automatic access to the last three days of programming. Intel had also promised a set-top box with a “beautiful industrial design,” in the words of executive Erik Huggers, along with a camera that could recognize individual users and provide recommendations.

Eight months later, it looks like Intel is running into the same problems faced by Apple, Sony, Google and any other company that wants to change the way TV channels are packaged and sold. TV networks are just too wary about moving away from cable and satellite subscriptions. Reports of negotiations between tech and media companies pop up constantly, but the most actual progress we’ve ever seen is a tentative agreement between Sony and Viacom. And even that hasn’t been confirmed.

Back when Intel’s TV plans were just a rumor, a report from Forbes claimed that the chipmaker would have better luck wooing Hollywood by showing “much more dedication (and dollars).” But right now, Intel isn’t showing much of either. The company is looking to partners to chip in their own cash, and new Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has talked about “being cautious” with its TV ambitions, as All Things D points out.

Perhaps Intel will end up making a deal with another company to keep its TV plans alive. But even then, we’d be back to the same hopes and dreams that have brought no major changes to TV as we know it.