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Study: Hybrids, Retail Will Drive STB Future

13 августа 2007
The market for set-top boxes is poised for steady growth through the end of the decade, a new report said, as service upgrades and new technology drive the pay-TV audience to new levels. According to a new study from ABI Research, three main factors will propel the STB market in the next few years: advanced features, interactivity offered by hybrid boxes, and the uncertain development of a retail set-top market.

"There's a war going on in the trenches for TV customers," said Stan Schatt, ABI's VP and research director. "In an effort to lock in customers, cable operators are migrating to newer STBs that offer features such as personal video recording and high-definition support. Meanwhile telecom operators are leveraging IPTV technology to support interactive services."

Accelerating sales of HDTV sets and the popularity of PVR functions are igniting customer demand for set-tops that support the advanced features. The trend, Schatt said, will create a temporary market for upgraded boxes. However, beginning in 2010 many existing customers will have completed their upgrades, and demand will begin to decline.

According to the report, STBs that can provide content using more than one platform during the next few years will become increasingly popular and replace single-platform boxes in many markets.

"In order to really understand this market you have to examine the growth of hybrid STBs that are finding their way into both cable operator and telecom deployments," Schatt said. "Their ability to enable new interactive services for cable, terrestrial and satellite operators will be a powerful engine for this market."

Finally, as of July 1, 2007, as a result of a US Federal Communications Commission mandate, new STBs no longer include embedded security features, but can use CableCard or downloadable security mechanisms instead. This, together with the desire of cable operators to eliminate the cost of buying and leasing boxes to their customers, may lead to the development of a retail environment in which STB vendors vie directly for the consumer's dollar.


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