The set-top box continues to thrive despite the pay-TV industry’s increased focus on delivering video to other connected devices, with market shipments set to hit successive highs over the next three years, according to US research firm IHS.
Global shipments of pay-TV set-top boxes are forecast to rise 8% this year from 250mn in 2012 to 269mn in 2013, then up another 6% to 286mn in 2014 and up a more modest 1% to 290mn in 2015, when the market is expected to peak for the foreseeable future.
Daniel Simmons, senior principal analyst for TV technology at IHS, said: “STBs are facing a mounting challenge to their role at the dominant pay-TV video consumption device because of operators’ growing emphasis on supporting multiscreen devices.
“However, operators are continuing to deploy STBs in order to manage the compatibility between their delivery networks and the consumer electronics devices that consumers are increasingly using to view content now.”
Set-top boxes to be eclipsed by other connected devices
IHS is sticking to its 2012 prediction that STBs’ domination of the pay-TV market is set to come to an end, with multiscreen devices accounting for nearly half of all platforms receiving television services from the largest operators by 2015.
However, this doesn’t mean that STBs will stop being used – or even that their shipments will stop rising in the near term. In fact, IHS expects pay-TV operators to continue to deploy STBs and utilise them as a central platform for video services.
As a result of continuing deployments and the gradual migration to HD, global revenues from STB shipments are expected to reach US$ 22.2bn this year, making it the most valuable year in the history of the market.
Global STB shipments to decline from 2016
After hitting a record high in 2015, global STB shipments are expected to start to decline, decreasing by 5% in 2016 and by another 2% in 2017. “The global transition from analogue to digital TV will be almost complete by 2016, leading to a contraction in the overall number of STBs shipped,” adds Simmons.
“As this deadline approaches, the best-positioned vendors will be those that have developed the most technologically advanced STBs that will allow them to drive value in the developed markets, as well as those that can extract maximum margin from the emerging markets.”