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TV Set-Top Box Use Dropping

10 Jul, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Set-top Box

Households increasingly accessing pay-TV via PCs, smartphones, tablets and not traditional set-top boxes

The percentage of global households using set-top boxes (STBs) to access pay-TV channels is projected to drop more than 31% by 2015 from 82% household penetration in 2011, according to new data from IHS Screen Digest. Instead, nearly 50% of households will access TV content through PCs, smartphones, tablets and other multi-screen devices.

Multi-screen is defined as a service that allows the viewing of video on multiple platforms beyond the traditional mode of televisions connected to STBs. The multi-screen device category comprises a range of products, including smartphones, media tablets, portable media devices, video game consoles, personal computers and Internet-enabled televisions.

IHS reported that by 2016, set-top boxes will relinquish their customary position as the near-exclusive video consumption device among the 43 major cable, satellite and Internet protocol television (IPTV) providers that are proceeding with multi-screen deployments.

The worldwide install base of pay-TV STBs associated with multi-screen operators will amount to 321.7 million units in 2015, up 17% from 274.5 million units in 2011. Meanwhile, multi-screen devices actively receiving pay-TV services will rise to 310.1 million units, up more than 400% from 60.1 million units in 2011.

The overall install base of STBs is actually much larger, when incorporating pay-TV providers that aren’t engaging in the deployment of multi-screen services. The multi-screen operators accounted for only about one half of the global total of 538.8 million installed STBs in 2011, and will represent only about one third of the 849 million in 2015.
“A new era is dawning in the pay-TV industry, one in which subscribers can access television services on the device of their choosing, rather than being limited to using STBs,” said Tom Morrod, senior principal analyst of TV technology for IHS. “Consumers desire greater flexibility, demanding access to entertainment on any platform, in any location and at any time. Because of this, cable, satellite and IPTV operators are shifting their focus away from the STB and toward multi-screen deployment.”

Indeed, by 2015, 11 pay-TV operators will be supporting content and subscribers on more multi-screen devices than on their own set-top boxes.

For example, Bell Canada, which has a very strong strategy for delivery of services to its mobile subscribers, will be supporting almost eight times as many phones and tablets in 2015 than STBs. Multi-screen devices will account for 89% of Bell Canada’s total consumer end-points, defined as the number of devices used by subscribers of the Canadian operator in order to access its pay-TV content.

Operators with larger STB installed bases, such as BSkyB in the United Kingdom, also are expected to perform well, tipping the scale with approximately 1.5 devices per STB installed in 2015. The strength of BSkyB’s Sky Go and NowTV strategies will make the company a majority IP-to-multi-screen device operator by that time.

In the U.S. cable market where STB deployments are most widespread, Comcast will be nudging toward having one Xfinity or Streampix device per set-top box.

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