Next TV: Intel Media Trialing Broadband Video Service in Employee Homes

GM Free: Test of Service Underway in Three West Coast Markets

New York -- Improved customer experience and thematic bundles will be at the core of the broadband-delivered TV service that Intel Media plans to launch later this year.

Eric Free, vice president and general manager of content and services at Intel Media, said that while the company is open to conversations with traditional distributors, “the plan is to go it alone.”

Free -- speaking during the opening keynote address at the Next TV Summit, sponsored by Multichannel News and B&C, here on March 21 -- said Intel Media, a division of the chip giant, is currently engaged in a closed trial within employee homes in three West Coast markets. The over-the-top service, which will be delivered via an Intel-powered set-top box, is expected to launch later this year.

He said the “cord-cutting, cord-shaving and cord-nevering (if that’s a word, he said) are real and trending.” He said they pose a real risk of moving out of the pay TV universe.

Free said the service is designed to keep younger Internet-connected, multiple-device-using consumer within the pay-TV universe by integrating the best of TV programming and theatrical worlds and melding the content with social, discovery (search) and interactive features. That will result in a better user experience and packaging that will afford users more choice, convenience and control.  

To that end, Intel Media is not pursuing those focused on economic-cutters, looking for value discounts. “We’re looking at more thematic bundles,” he said, noting that consumers may say indicate as much, but when push comes to shove they really aren’t interested in a la carte programming. Free noted Intel Media is working within industry content business models and rules that “add value for the consumer, while allowing programmers to achieve their goals.”

As it ramps up toward a launch, Intel Media already has retained some 300 people, with perhaps another 60 to hire. Free said Intel Media has tapped officials from media and pay TV world, including executives from Apple, Google, Netflix, the studios and networks. “Ninety percent are not from Silicon Valley,” he said, adding that the service will push more innovation in the living room and from the cloud, which benefits Intel in many different ways.

Multichannel News technology editor Todd Spangler interviewed Free.