Set-Top-BoxGrowing sales of multimedia home gateways (MHGs) will be one of a number of factors fueling growth in the global market for connectable set-top boxes (STBs), according to new market research from IHS. Shipments of STBs will increase to total 125.6 million units worldwide in 2017, up from 65.8 million in 2012, according to IHS’, “Set-Top Box Market Monitor.”

Some 45% of total STB shipments in 2017 will be of the connectable variety, IHS says, up from 26% last year. A “connectable” STB, the market research firm explains in a press release, “is a set-top box that can be linked to an Internet Protocol (IP) network. Such boxes typically integrate an Ethernet port of Wi-Fi, allowing a connection to networks located within homes. All types of pay-TV operators – cable, satellite and IPTV providers – are distributing connectable STBs.”

MHGs and “thin clients for cable systems” will be major factors in growing demand for connectable STBs, according to IHS, accounting for 25% of shipments between 2013 and 2017. An MHG is a an STB and residential network gateway that processes IP video signals for all connectable devices within a home, such as smart digital TVs, video game controllers, media tablets and smartphones, as well as notebook, laptop and desktop PCs. “A thin client,” IHS goes on to explain, “is a partner device to an MHG that is used to interface between the IP-based, in-home video signals and a television.”

“Consumers increasingly are demanding connectivity from their electronics devices, and STBs are playing a central role in the networking of products,” commented IHS’ Daniel Simmons, senior principal STB analyst. “Connected STBs perform all kinds of useful functions, including distributing digital video recorder (DVR) streams to televisions in multiple rooms, as well as delivering video on demand (VoD) and web content to various platforms.

“Furthermore, MHGs and their associated thin clients, which also employ connectivity, are being used by pay-TV operators to provide advanced services and content to all kinds of IP-connectable devices, including mobile products like smartphones and media tablets.”

Connectable STB unit shipments will be highest among IPTV pay-TV operators in 2013, who will account for 39% of total shipments, IHS forecasts.

Shipments of cable HD STBs to Chinese providers will grow rapidly in subsequent years, while worldwide migration to MHGs will fuel growth as well. As a result, cable will become the major growth driver for the connectable STB market, with shipments increasing around 25.4% per year to reach 45.8 million shipments in 2017, IHS says.

By region, North America currently accounts for the largest share of connectable pay-TV STB shipments. North America shipments will account for 41% of the global total this year and continue to be the global market leader through 2017.

“In mature pay-TV markets like North America, operators are seeing IP-based services as an opportunity to differentiate their products, and this is driving shipments,” Wajahat Abbassi, IHS STB analyst, commented.

Asia-Pacific will see the fastest growth in connectable pay-TV STB shipments from 2012-2017, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.2%.

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