The date was January 2, 2013. Intel announced that they were developing a “revolutionary” streaming video service. It would be everything that DIRECTV NOW is today, and also let you pause live TV and have access to an on-demand library. I told you about it myself, and even showed a mockup of what it was supposed to look like.
Unlike today’s video streaming services, the Intel service would have needed its own box. That’s how it was done in 2013, I guess. Neither smartphones nor the streaming boxes of the day would have been enough to handle whatever demand was put on it.
It’s sad but just ten months later the whole project was scrapped. The technology was later sold to Verizon for their “Go90” video service which is the streaming service you’ve never heard of and probably never will. You have to wonder what would have happened if Intel had actually gone through with it. As a total TV-industry outsider, they could have shaken up the streaming video business years before we saw Sling TV or DIRECTV NOW come on the scene. They could have ported their technology to later-generation streaming boxes and mobile devices, and developed a rich content alternative that included local channels. Now, almost four years later, we could have been just that much further along on a road to getting the complete TV experience we want, anywhere and at any time.
Remember that when this product was announced, DIRECTV had only been streaming video for about nine months and most smartphones didn’t really have the ability to stream much more than blocky SD. The leading streaming boxes of the day were barely able to keep up with the demand for HD streaming. The world’s changed a lot since then.
I go back to thinking about the Intel “OnCue” video box (as it was rumored to be called) a lot because it’s not really like Intel to announce something with so much hoopla and drop it like a hot rock less than a year later. I wonder what drove them in that direction and why they moved so quickly away from it. The news media at the time seemed to think the entire project was the brainchild of an Intel senior executive who made it a pet project. When he moved on, so did the project. That’s as likely as anything else, and when it comes down to it, we’ll never know.