Intel reportedly ready to launch set-top box to deliver virtual TV service

Remember when the set-top box was deader than the Philadelphia Phillies' chances of returning to the World Series in 2012? That was then, this is now.

Industry whispers--turned-to-shouts--were already saying Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) is aligning cash and workers for a virtual television service. Now, word coming from CES 2013 is that the chipmaker wants to be the brains behind a new set-top box.

The box would be the conduit for Intel Media, a business group with a mandate to get content for Intel-based platforms. Core processing within the box would be to capture data about viewers' gender and whether they're adults or children to help advertisers more neatly target audiences, reports claim.

Of course this whole thing hinges on the same complexities of any new TV service offering: getting those with the content to let loose of that content. 

The big content players, already negotiating deals with their biggest customers to spread the viewing around on multiple screens, are not necessarily amenable to a newcomer with a non-guaranteed audience potentially siphoning away existing subscribers. Intel, the reports say, hopes to make those fears go away with its Big Brother look at who's actually viewing the content.

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