The market for set-top boxes is naturally one that people will see as continuously growing on account of current trends, with estimations of global sales expected to break its own current records year-on-year for the near future. That trend of growth, however, is expected to stop in the year 2016, with data from Futuresource Consulting estimating that shipments of ‘pay TV set-top boxes’ (STB) will hit a peak of ’180 million units’ at that point, and likely to slowly decline thereafter.
The research specialists also noted that due to the prevalence of internet services are slowly edging out traditional ‘free-to-air’ set top boxes, which are expected to peak this year along with the STB market overall.
Futuresource’s ‘head of entertainment content & delivery’ Carl Hibbert said of the future of the markets worldwide: “Despite the overall STB market topping out this year, this is entirely due to erosion of the free-to-air segment. We’re going to see the trinity of cable, pay satellite and IPTV continue to perform, growing by 2% CAGR between 2012 and 2016. The majority of this growth is coming from Asia Pacific and Latin America, as the regions expand their cable digitalisation programmes and new services continue to appear. Conversely, demand for Pay TV STBs in developed markets is now predominantly saturated, though the transition to higher priced advanced media gateways in these regions will have a sustained and positive impact on revenues.”
The company note that while ‘STB vendors’ are attempting to stay alive in the market through increasing their feature-load (including connected support and services, ‘increased storage capacity’, and ‘multiple tuners’, amongst others), the market is slipping as a whole, in spite of a fast-developing market for ‘advanced multimedia home gateways’ that offer sharable content ‘between multiple screens in the home’, expected to ship over 3.5 million units in 2013 primarily in ‘North America and Western Europe’.
Futuresource summarised by identifying this potential future market, and how it could shape future sales figures of other product types: “Multimedia home gateways are increasingly a new weapon of choice for operators to stem subscriber churn, offering subscribers new services and more efficient delivery of video to secondary screens in the home and on the move. Although they are costly for operators - at roughly double the price of preceding premium set-tops – they can be extremely cost effective for operators in the long run, particularly in homes with high levels of multiple TV ownership.”