Light Reading

Intel May Launch a Virtual MSO

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Today's cable news roundup kicks off with word that Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is chipping away at an over-the-top pay-TV play.

  • Intel is pitching programmers on a plan to create a "virtual cable operator" that would sell video subscription packages over broadband and debut before the end of 2012, reports The Wall Street Journal. Intel's been cozying up to cable operators with video gateway chipsets that support Docsis 3.0, scoring a deal to power Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s new IP-connected X1 box, though a move into the pay-TV business would likely strain those relationships. But it's still questionable whether the deep-pocketed Intel will go through with it. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) pursued a similar idea but balked at the costs, instead favoring an MSO partnership strategy for the Xbox 360. (See A Virtual MSO Shall Rise, Boxee CEO Says, Comcast, Verizon Connect With the Xbox 360 and Comcast Confirms Xcalibur Partners.)

  • Synacor Inc. posted fourth-quarter net income of US$7.7 million on revenues of $28.9 million, up 59 percent, as the TV Everywhere authentication specialist reported its first earnings since going public last month. It's projecting 2012 revenues to be in the range of $121 million to $124 million. (See Synacor's Wild Ride .)

  • On the deal front, Synacor will build a new consumer website that includes TV Everywhere components for Cable ONE Inc.

  • Docsis CPE maker Ubee Interactive is expanding into the world of 3G/4G small cells via the acquisition of Dallas-based AirWalk Communications Inc. As a result, it's created a new subsidiary called UbeeAirWalk.

  • With the NCAA Men's Basketball tourney about to get underway, it's also time for The Consumerist to run its cheeky Worst Company in America vote-driven content. This year's 32-company field has no shortage of telecom and video industry folks in the running for the 2012 "Golden Poo" award. Among them: Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), Charter Communications Inc. , Comcast, DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). BP "won" last year.

  • Cable engineers and execs at this week's CableLabs Winter Conference in Philadelphia picked Coincident 's ScreenSync TV as the "Best New Idea" at the event's Innovation Showcase. As the product name suggests, ScreenSync TV allows interactive applications running on tablets to synch up with live or on-demand video playing on the TV screen.

  • Former Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) CFO Michael Huseby has been named CFO of Barnes & Noble Inc. as the bookstore chain looks to spin its Nook digital division into a separate company and expand its overall digital strategy, says Bloomberg.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    User Rank: Blogger
    12/5/2012 | 5:39:37 PM
    re: Intel May Launch a Virtual MSO

    Has anyone done a retrospective on previous winners at CableLabs events? Coincident's idea hardly sounds new, and certainly there are plenty of other companies attacking the same issue with similar-sounding applications. Are cable folks simply behind the times, or is there something new and novel about Coincident's approach? 

    Separately, I'm amazed at how many people want to make a go of it in the TV business these days. Given the margins, it's certainly one way to eat through massive piles of cash quickly. Good luck to Intel. 

    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:39:36 PM
    re: Intel May Launch a Virtual MSO

    Sounds far-fetched. Maybe the larger truth is that chips are part of the game. I've paid more attention to Broadcom than Intel. There's the BCM 7413 which powers the Tivo Premiere and a box that Spanish ISP Jazztel is using for OTT delivery. Also in the 7400 class: the IP/QAM SoC that Jeff wrote about on Mon. The last three Roku boxes use BCM 2835. 

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:39:36 PM
    re: Intel May Launch a Virtual MSO

    last time I recall looking back at the history of this thing was when BelAir was picked in 2010 for the Summer Conference. Looking at some past winners it's not like getting selected means automatic sucess; but it does cause some of us to check them out, especially if it involves a company that's sort of new to the radar.

    yeah, synching iTV with other devices is not exactly a new concept; in fact, synching interactive apps on the PC was how alot of this was done along back when the iTV discussion centered around GoldPocket at ABC. JB


    User Rank: Blogger
    12/5/2012 | 5:39:34 PM
    re: Intel May Launch a Virtual MSO

    This isn't the first time that Intel has flirted around with a content play. Periodically they've trotted out something at CES or elsewhere, like a virtual on-demand storefront a couple years ago. Everytime they do this I think: why? It always feels like a veiled effort to push chips.    

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:39:33 PM
    re: Intel May Launch a Virtual MSO

    Ninth time's a charm. But, agree, i don't really get this even if they can stomach the "rate cards" they get presented with . JB

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