To hear television companies describe it, no plot is more predictable than the arrival of a Web-based TV provider.
“Somebody’s going to come over the top,” said David Zaslav, the head of Discovery Channel- and TLC-parent Discovery Communications, using the phrase for delivery of TV over the Internet. He made the comments last month at a UBS investor conference, where the financial chief of Disney said its arrival was a certainty and the chief of MTV’s and Nickelodeon’s parent, Viacom, gave it “a very strong chance” of arriving in 2014.
It has long remained an open question just who will provide an over-the-top pay-TV service. Apple, Sony, and Google have been said to be in pursuit. For nearly a year, Intel was the only company to outright broadcast its ambitions, until Sony went public with its goals at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month: It plans to pilot a cloud-based TV service this year that combines live television content with on-demand and DVR.
And now, later than envisioned and not quite as expected, Intel will be the first — sort of. The chipmaker and Verizon announced Tuesday that the telecom company would buy Intel Media,the division developing the Internet-based TV service OnCue. The technology will allow Verizon’s Fios television product to expand to markets that its fiber-optic infrastructure hasn’t reached yet.