Intel joins Apple, Google, Microsoft in weighing online TV play

The latest name in the ongoing rumors that the dawn of virtual cable operators is just around the corner is a familiar one: Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC).

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the chip maker has been asking programmers for prices on content with the intent of launching a pay-TV service online by the end of the year.

The pay-TV market is an attractive one, albeit crowded, with subscriber fees expected to exceed $40.7 billion in 2012. The challenge, of course, is tight bandwidth and the rising cost of programming. Intel has declined comment of the rumors that it's been working several months toward a launch.

It's not alone in looking toward the Internet to deliver a pay-TV service.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) last year was rumored to be moving aggressively forward with its own plans, but it has apparently put the project on hold due to the cost of content, among other factors. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Sony and Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) also have been rumored to be chasing content on various levels, with Google recently getting permission to sell pay-TV in Kansas City, Kan. where it's building a 1-Gbps fiber network.

But, The Journal points out, none appear to have moved past the exploratory phase.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)

Related articles:
Report: Cost to license content kills Microsoft TV
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Microsoft softly debuts streaming live TV on the Xbox
Report: Microsoft ready to step in as 'virtual' cable operator with Xbox deal
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