According to recent research from IHS Screen Digest, the set-top box (STB) is not set to be on top for very much longer – at least for one segment of the pay-TV industry. In 2015, nearly half of all devices obtaining television services from 43 of the largest global pay-TV operators that have commenced deployment of multi-screen services – will be PCs, smartphones, tablets and other multi-screen devices, up from just 18% in 2011. Meanwhile, STBs will decline to just 51% of pay-TV operator devices in 2015, down from 82% in 2011.
“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, 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.
The global installed 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 in 2011. Meanwhile, multi-screen devices actively receiving pay-TV services will rise to 310.1 million, up more than 400% from 60.1 million in 2011.
The total installed 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.
“For the 43 major operators tracked by IHS Screen Digest that have deployed multi-screen services, this means that multi-screen devices will supplant STBs as the leading pay-TV access devices by 2016,” concluded Morrod.