As it looks into purchasing Hulu, DirecTV is also making a push to secure over-the-top (OTT) rights from cable channels and other programmers according to The Los Angeles Times. The OTT distribution model would allow subscribers to receive TV content over the internet without any need for a set-top box in the home. But more importantly, OTT rights could help DirecTV and cable companies fend off growing competition from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other video streaming services. It would also theoretically help them extend their traditional reach; the ability to provide programming over the internet would allow companies to reach new customers and compete against one another in regions typically dominated by one provider.

Playing defense against Netflix

Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications have also pushed for OTT rights in recent months. But that doesn't necessarily mean the way you watch TV will be drastically changing anytime soon. Rather, the cable and satellite companies want to be on a level playing field with Netflix and others in terms of distribution. "Our programming deals are confidential so we can't specifically comment, but our one objective in these deals is not to restrict access but to ensure we get equal or better treatment with both existing and new competitors," a DirecTV spokesperson told The Los Angeles Times.

Intel is widely expected to launch an internet-based TV platform at some point in the future, but difficulties nailing down content have reportedly forced the company to break out the checkbook. It's rumored that Intel is paying programmers up to 75 percent more than cable companies. Cable providers have also been accused of actively working to derail Intel's progress; the US Justice Department is believed to be investigating those reports.