Tech TV: Netflix lands 'Better Call Saul,' Katie Couric's pay cut and Intel may want out of its TV foray

Channel-surfing the latest tech TV news:

Netflix announced Monday it has acquired exclusive streaming rights to the “Breaking Bad” prequel spinoff, “Better Call Saul,” once it completes its run on AMC next year. The Los Gatos video-on-demand company said the new series would be available to its U.S. and Canadian subscribers immediately after the first season ends. In Europe and Latin America, however, Netflix will stream episodes a few days after they air.

“Better Call Saul” will be an hour-long dramedy starring Bob Odenkirk, featuring the misadventures of the ethically-challenged strip-mall lawyer who represented teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White in the highly acclaimed drama “Breaking Bad.” “This spinoff promises to continue its tradition of powerful storytelling,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in a statement.

The deal is a bit of a consolation prize for Netflix, which reportedly was ready to buy the series outright in September had the series not reached a deal with AMC.

• Katie Couric is apparently taking a big pay cut to go to Yahoo. Last month, the Sunnyvale-based Internet giant lured the ABC TV host to be its new “global anchor” for its expanding news operation. TMZ reported Sunday that Couric will make about $6 million a year with Yahoo. While not chump change, it’s quite a drop from the $15 million a year she got anchoring the CBS Evening News, and the $40 million, three-year deal she had with ABC.

Couric is expected to join Yahoo in early 2014. She’ll join a stable of high-profile reporters Yahoo has hired recently, including former New York Times tech columnist David Pogue and former Times political writer Matt Pai.

Intel‘s long-rumored foray into Internet-based TV always seemed an odd fit. The company seems to feel the same way now: Bloomberg News reports Verizon is close to a deal to buy the service.

Bloomberg said Intel is looking to shed its OnCue service rather than invest in lengthy and expensive programming deals with networks and studios. New CEO Brian Krzanich is also trying to refocus the company on its chip-making business, particularly mobile.

Intel’s set-top-box subscription service would have posed a challenge to traditional cable providers. Verizon may now pick up that baton and pose a similar challenge, adding OnCue to its existing pay-TV services.

Santa Clara-based Intel was said to be asking $500 million for OnCue in November, Bloomberg said, and the Verizon deal may be announced as soon as this week.

• 4K ultra-high-definition TVs were all the rage at this year’s CES, offering four times the resolution of current 1080p HDTVs. While prices have already dropped considerably, consumers have had one big problem: A lack of content filmed in 4K. Amazon is planning on changing that, announcing Monday that it would shoot all of its upcoming original streaming programming in 4K.

“We think customers are going to love watching these series in the highest resolution ever available to consumers and we can’t wait to deliver it.” Amazon Studios Director Roy Price said in a statement. Amazon is the first content provider to make the move to all-4K, which will require significantly more bandwidth for smooth streaming. Amazon may be looking at the long game; last month, DirecTV said it doesn’t expect to see 4K taking off until around 2016.

 

At top, Bob Odenkirk will star in “Better Call Saul.” (AMC photo)

Mike Murphy Mike Murphy (359 Posts)

Mike Murphy is a web producer at the Mercury News, and also writes for Good Morning Silicon Valley and 60-Second Business Break.