Maybe. It’s the plan, anyway, as Intel — the company we usually associate with microprocessors — is planning to unleash a set-top box that will allow anyone with an Internet connection to subscribe to individual channels and, perhaps even, individual programs. For beta testers, it’s coming as soon as March.
This set-top box, said by industry insiders to be available to a limited beta of customers in March, will offer cable channels delivered “over the top” to televisions anywhere there is an Internet connection regardless of provider … For the first time, consumers will be able to subscribe to content per channel, unlike bundled cable services, and you may also be able to subscribe per show as well. Intel’s set-top box will also have access to Intel’s already existing app marketplace for apps, casual games, and video on demand. Leveraging the speed of current broadband, and the vast shared resources of the cloud, Intel plans to give customers the ability to use “Cloud DVR”, a feature intended to allow users to watch any past TV show at any time, without the need to record it ahead of time, pause live tv, and rewind shows in progress
If Intel manages to pull it off, it could change the television industry. BUT, don’t get your hopes up too high because there’s a lot of obstacles in Intel’s way, most notably THE TELEVISION INDUSTRY. Cable networks like the way things are going now because it allows them to bundle all of their channels together, and force them down cable providers throats. This would completely screw with their system and cost them a lot of money. Cable networks are not big fans of losing money.
Moreover, even if we got unbundled programming, we may soon realize that we don’t want it, after all, as many of the channels we do watch are, in effect, subsidized by subscriber fees to other channels. In other words, cable providers pay about $.42 per subscriber per month for the FX Network, but if it were made available a la carte, we may end up paying $10-$12 or more per month (or what we pay for HBO and Showtime). If you watch more than seven or eight channels, that could quickly equal the cost of the average cable bill, PLUS you’d still be paying for the Intel service. Then again, among basic cable channels, I could probably survive on FX, AMC, ESPN, and Comedy Central.
So, yes: It’s an awesome idea in theory, and what we’ve all said we’ve wanted for years. In practice, it may only be beneficial to those who truly do watch only a few channels. Ultimately, however, it may just be one more option among the growing options for cord cutters.