The Dream Of Subscribing To Only The Cable Channels You Want May Arrive This Year

09.03.13 4 years ago 42 Comments


I have cable television, and during peak television viewing season, I watch around 30 shows a week. Yet, despite the fact that I’m paying $120 a month or so for the right to have cable television, I still watch 60 percent or more of the shows I view on the Internet. For whatever reason, it’s just easier (at least in my mind), and the only thing keeping me from cutting the cable cord is 1) football, and 2) that my job depends on being able to watch some of those shows that you can’t get without cable television. It’s a racket, and one in which we’re all increasingly frustrated to support.

That soon may change, however, as The Oregonian is reporting that Intel is working on a very secretive set-top box. WAIT! WAIT! Before your eyes glaze over let me succinctly and clearly explain what this might mean for you.

First and foremost, it means that you may finally be able to cut the cable cord. Why? Because this set-top box basically acts as a cable surrogate, zapping all of your favorite shows off of the Internet and onto your television. But it’s not like one of those doohickeys that allow you to watch Netflix or Hulu on your television sets. Intel is working with programming providers to provide consumers the same programming offered by cable, plus programming offered online.

Intel has given broad outlines of what it’s planning: A TV box and subscription service that will offer channel lineups similar to what cable TV offers, at comparable prices.

The company is targeting “cord cutters” and what it calls “cord shavers” and “hassled cobblers.” They’re an emerging class of avid TV viewers who find what they need online instead of on cable. But that’s not easy — viewers must piece together programs from various online services, and many sports and premium cable shows can’t be streamed (not legally, anyway) without a cable subscription.

But wait? How is this different from cable, you ask, except for the fact that it comes from the Internet instead of a cable some guy stuck through a hole he drilled in your wall?

What will set it apart, Intel promises, are subscription plans better tailored to individual tastes: Sports, for example, or family TV. And Intel promises a much better user interface than the clunky lineup grids the cable companies employ so that it’s easier to see what’s on, and easier to find programs you like.

OK, cool. It’s not exactly a la carte programming, in which you can pick and choose your channels, but would seemingly allow us to, say, purchase premium sports packages without first subscribing to the base cable offerings. Hell, if they could bundle FX, AMC, HBO, Showtime as the “Walton Goggins’ Bundle” and allow me to also add the Red Zone channel, that would take care of 95 percent of my programming needs, presumably at much, much less the costs.

More importantly, it will allow us all to finally give the finger to the cable companies. That is going to feel so good.

OnCue is expected to roll out in limited markets later this year (including Oregon), and if it’s a success, it should roll out nationwide soon thereafter, assuming they can successfully negotiate licenses with content providers.

(Source: The Oregonian)

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