Intel going where Apple wouldn’t?

Bloomberg moved an item on Tuesday, citing “people with knowledge of the situation.” It claims Intel is “making progress” in its talks with at least some media companies about securing content for its proposed over-the-top pay-TV service.

According to the report, Time Warner, NBC Universal, and Viacom “have signed off on the broad outlines of the proposed service,” although some aspects are still being worked out.

Assuming the report is true, that progress is apparently coming at a price, however. “It’s great” for media companies, RBC Capital analyst David Bank told the wire service. “Intel will have to pay a premium as the new kid on the block.”

Just how much of a premium will be interesting. Intel is hardly the first would-be OTT service provider to try to secure streaming rights from the networks; Apple was rumored more than two years ago to be in talks with the media companies about offering a select bundle of channels by subscription over-the-top.

Those talks by Apple led nowhere, however, no doubt at least in part because Apple was unwilling to pay a premium for the rights. Apple is all about keeping content prices low, the better to sell devices. But the networks have a good thing going in their carriage deals with traditional pay-TV providers. If they’re going to risk those by selling comparable rights to OTT providers, the networks need to demand a premium. If Intel is indeed making progress in its talks, it’s because it has decided to bite that bullet and pay up.

Yet a lot has changed in the two years since Apple struck out with the networks. Relations between the networks and their traditional distribution “partners” have gotten downright frosty as they fight over rising carriage fees and the scope of their current rights deals. Now might be just the time for the networks to begin nurturing the growth of an OTT alternative to Time Warner Cable and Dish.

While Intel may be willing to pay more for rights than Apple was, it may also simply have better timing.