Microsoft, Intel, Cisco: Enabling Internet TV (MSFT, INTC, CSCO, DISH)

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Includes: CMCSA, CSCO, CVC, DISH, INTC, MSFT, T, TWX

Products that enable Internet-based television will be one key spotlight at CES this week. The Wall St. Journal (sub. req.) takes a look at the big players in this potentially huge market -- key excerpts:

While cable and satellite TV services offer hundreds of channels and up to thousands of video-on-demand choices, the amount of content available on the Web is virtually limitless... For consumers, this could mean instant access to hard-to-find content, such as films in foreign languages and old TV shows... But the trend is a threat to some entrenched players, such as cable operators.

While cable companies now make billions by selling high-speed Internet connections, TV on the Web could threaten their traditional role as middlemen between viewers and programmers... Leading the Internet TV charge, rather, are computer-industry players like Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and Intel Corp., which have long been trying to muscle into the living room. Cisco's Linksys unit, for example, in Las Vegas plans to show a DVD player that also plays video in Microsoft's Windows Media format -- a standard on the Web -- and has a broadband connection for routing content off the Internet to TV sets.

Web content also will likely get a lift from satellite TV operators, hoping to use it to counter cable companies' video-on-demand services. The next generation of set-top boxes that both DirecTV Group Inc. and a partnership of AT&T Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp. display in Las Vegas will have Ethernet jacks for broadband connections. Subscribers to these services, along with their regular satellite TV channels, will be able to choose from hundreds of movies and other programs piped over the Internet.


Graphic: WSJ