's Digital Edge
Global pay TV set-top box market to peak in 2012 Team

(28 April 2009 2:15 pm)


MUMBAI: Come 2012 and set-top box manufacturers are going to be popping champagne. The reason: demand for pay TV set-top boxes is predicted to peak in 2012 with shipments climbing to 127 million units annually, according to a report by London-based media research outfit Screen Digest. STB manufacturers sold about 104 million units in 2008.

While the rapid rise in STB sales is good news, manufacturers will have to keep a close watch on their capacities and inventories, says the Screen Digest study. It expects sales to drop by as much as 8 million units in 2013 to 119 million units.


What will drive this growth? Screen Digest says pay TV operators seeking to digitise their current analogue services, migrate their customers to digital boxes and also upgrade them to HD and PVR services will do the trick. It expects these premium boxes to account for almost 50 per cent of shipments, and 80 per cent of the market in value terms. Today they account for 25 per cent of volume and 50 per cent by value.

In addition to the pay TV market, there will be almost 70 million units shipped in the global free-to-air market in 2013. Much of the demand will be driven by service extensions and digitisation of pay TV platforms in Eastern Europe and the major emerging BRIC markets.

What will cause the decline in 2013? The study states it will primarily be due to a drop in demand from Chinese cable operators following the rapid growth in the country in the next few years. These low-value boxes will impact global volumes but will have little impact on revenues which will continue to grow across all other regions.


The Screen Digest study continues to display pessimism towards IPTV or telco TV. It says that consumers will be reluctant to buy into IPTV with average revenue per user (ARPU) staying low, gradually eroding investments by major telcos.

The real opportunity for IP technology is likely to come in hybrid broadcast DTT, satellite and DOCSIS 3.0 cable services. In Western Europe, the leading region for hybrid services, hybrid IP-broadcast boxes account for 20 per cent of total pay TV box shipments and over 70 per cent of shipments to telcos. Globally, 40 per cent of IPTV boxes for telco services are also broadcast receivers.

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