Intel web TV likely a CES no show thanks to content provider hang ups

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Small screen ambitions

This year's installment of the Consumer Electronics Show is right around the corner, but one thing we're not likely to see come next week is a web TV platform from Intel.

That's according to a report from the Wall Street Journal claiming that the company has hit a snag in forging licensing agreements with media companies to provide content for its own internet-based TV service.

According to the Journal's sources, such a service (and associated set-top box) probably won't come until mid-year at the earliest and could even be delayed until the fourth quarter of 2013.

Intel had hoped to launch its own virtual cable business by the end of 2012, but pesky content agreement hold ups seem to have delayed its plans to some amorphous future date.

Media mavens in the making

Intel is clearly arming itself for a serious web TV push despite the timing hiccups and reported obstacles from media providers.

The company formed Intel Media in 2011 to focus on its TV exploits. Media is headed by Erik Huggers, formerly of the BBC, who helped kick off iPlayer.

When asked about its web TV designs, Intel played coy regarding its plans.

"Intel Media is a new consumer-facing entertainment division of Intel focused on exploring new ways to access, interact with and share the latest in digital entertainment," Dan Snyder, PR manager at Intel, told TechRadar in an email.

"But we're not prepared to share any future product plans at this time."

According to a report from Forbes, Intel is prepping a small beta test of a set-top box for March. A report from over the weekend also has Intel scheming a localized U.S. cable service introduction to overcome the inflexibility it's running into with a national roll-out.

Problems persist

Despite the sweat its pouring into developing a solid groundwork for future media streaming, Intel faces an uphill battle when it comes to content providers.

Media distributors are notoriously skittish when it comes to striking deals with web TV providers, afraid the unconventional set-top option would unsettle relationships with traditional cable companies.

What's more, Intel reportedly wants to give customers the choice to subscribe to individual channels that aren't part of the channel bundles currently served by content providers.

A television executive told the Journal last month that such a move would require significantly higher fees than TV companies currently collect, a charge that would likely get passed onto customers.

However, Intel has apparently already forged at least one content deal, though it's staying mum on what company it's partnered with.

Despite its TV delays, Intel should have plenty to show at CES, most notably rumored all-new PC and mobile device chip sets. We can wait on its web TV ambitions, especially if more time means getting the service right.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.