Intel goes Hollywood (close anyway) in search of TV deal on heels of Google, NFL talks

Intel’s move to set up entertainment outposts near the beautiful people of Santa Monica and New York is yet another sign that Silicon Valley sees itself as the future capital of the television universe.

Some had doubted the chipmaker’s commitment to offering television content over the Web, as this Reuters story points out, but the geographic shift to the centers of television content would seem to indicate that the Santa Clara, Calif., company is dead serious.

“It suggests that there’s an ongoing level of interest, maybe an incremental positive to their commitment,” said Cody Acree, an analyst at Williams Financial Group, told Reuters. “They have to continue down this path or there’s no hope of being successful.”

There is little doubt that Intel, one of Silicon Valley’s seminal companies, realizes that tech companies do not live by chips alone — at least not chips designed for desktops and laptops, which are Intel’s bread and butter.

Creating a pay-per-view or subscription service that allows viewers to watch their favorite programming on computers and mobile devices would create a revenue stream — and more importantly a new appetite for the chips that run the devices.

The question is, as Reuters points out, whether Intel is going to be able to land any content deals with content providers who have deep relationships with existing powerhouses such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network.

That said, it seems like every other day there is some news about a tech giant taking steps to become a “television” content provider. Last week, speculation started flying after AllThingsD reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Google CEO Larry Page and YouTube honcho Robert “I’d like to buy a vowel” Kyncl.

The thinking goes that Google might be interested in buying the rights for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket offering, currently controlled by DirecTV, which paid $1 billion for the privilege. (Which is between-the-couch-cushions change for Google.)

Think of it as the search giant branching out from Google X to Google Xs and Os.

The DirecTV contract is up after the 2014 season. AllThingsDer Peter Kafka points out that nothing here is exactly set in stone.

“An informal chat is a very long way from a deal,” he writes, “so there’s no need to invest too much in the conversation quite yet. And I’m told that Goodell and other NFL executives are meeting with multiple Silicon Valley companies on this trip, which is one they make annually.”

And the LA Times points out that a Google deal, through which presumably many more people would have access to the Ticket — a service that, for a few hundred dollars, provides live coverage of out-of-market games (for the hungry relocated fan or the addicted gambler) — isn’t all that popular with CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN, which hold traditional TV contracts with the league.

Nobody from Google or the NFL is talking right now. But this could all get interesting as the pro football season kicks off.

(Illustration by Kristopher Lee)

Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.