Intel confirms it's building an Internet TV service and box

Erik Huggers, general manager of Intel Media, confirms during an AllThingsD conference that the company will introduce a new Internet-based TV service this year.

Erik Huggers, head of Intel Media, speaks at the AllThingsD media conference. Screenshot by Shara Tibken/CNET

A lot has been written about Intel's TV push, but the company has largely remained silent -- until today.

Erik Huggers, the head of Intel Media, joined Walt Mossberg onstage at AllThingsD's media conference to confirm that Intel will be introducing an Internet-based TV service and box this year.

Intel will be providing the hardware and services directly to consumers, and the box will come with a camera that can detect who is in front of the TV. Huggers declined to provide many details -- including the service's name and programming partners -- but he said the service will let users watch live TV, on demand, and other offerings.

"For the first time, we will deliver...a new consumer-electronics product that people will buy from Intel through a new brand," Huggers said.

He said the set-top box will be be powered by an Intel chip (obviously) and noted that Intel is working with the entire television industry to figure out how to distribute live television, "catch-up TV," on-demand, and other services via the Internet.

"Ultimately we think there's an all-in-one solution," Huggers said.

Though Intel hopes to revolutionize the TV industry, the service will resemble current cable offerings in some key ways. For one, don't count on saving money with Intel's new offering. Huggers noted Intel's push isn't a value play and won't cut a user's television bill in half.

In addition, users won't be able to pick and choose certain channels but will likely subscribe to bundles curated by Intel's team.

"What consumers want is choice, control, and convenience," Huggers said. "If bundles are bundled right, there's real value in that.... I don't believe the industry is ready for pure a la carte."

Intel in late 2010 pitched Smart TV devices as a key new area for its processors, but it shut down its digital home group a year later. James Martin/CNET

Intel's history in the TV industry has been rocky. It was early to push Google TVs and other smart TVs, with its processors powering a Sony Google TV and a Logitech Google TV set-top box. However, such products flopped, and Intel shuttered its TV business in late 2011 after failing to gain much traction.

Huggers, meanwhile, joined Intel that same year following stints at the BBC and Microsoft. During his time at the BBC, he was on the executive board and served as director of BBC future media and technology, overseeing the company's online push and other initiatives. And during his time at Microsoft, Huggers worked in various digital media areas.

While Intel stopped pushing its processors for use in smart TVs, the company clearly didn't give up on the market entirely. Huggers noted that Intel has been building its media business for about a year.

 

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