Moderate declines in the demand for set-top boxes are expected in the next few years, according to new research from Futuresource Consulting.
The company says that 2012 will see 228 million units shipped globally before moderate declines in the mature markets of North America and Western Europe begin to set in.
However, the company expects the set-top to remain a key component of the pay-TV operator’s toolbox as leading manufacturers begin to develop a new generation of STBs labelled as media gateways or smart boxes.
The roll out of these new boxes comes at a time when the saturation of subscriber bases in mature markets is resulting in the need to develop new non-video related services. The ability to incorporate these boxes within home networking infrastructures and their compatibility with portable devices provides the ability to roll out services that allow the control of in-home lighting, temperature and security. Such offerings are expected to become increasingly widespread due to the competitive nature of the market and slowing video related revenues forcing operators to embrace new growth opportunities,” says Carl Hibbert, Head of Broadcast Research at Futuresource
Regionally, growth opportunities are still present. Asia Pacific, which is expected to represent 45% of global shipments in 2012, will see growth through to 2013, with smaller regions including Eastern Europe and Latin America growing from 16% to 18% and 4% to 6% respectively.
In Western Europe, cable represents the largest proportion of pay-TV homes and close to half of all pay-STB demand, and the continuing migration to digital services will drive cable STB growth through to 2014. However, cable operators are losing a proportion of their analogue subscribers to alternative pay platforms and FTA services. Overall cable subscribers will fall over the forecast period, in turn negatively affecting long-term demand for STBs.