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2014 Set To Be Big For Set Top Boxes As TV Stations Launch New Services

By David Richards | Sunday | 04/08/2013

Australia's free to air TV networks are currently testing a new generation of digital set top boxes that will run Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV with insiders tipping that 2014 could be a big year for PVR's.

According to Taiwanese Company Humax one of their PVR platforms is currently being evaluated by the free to air TV networks who are keen to take on Foxtel with a new broadcast service called HbbTV.

Other brands that are vying to be a supplier to the free to air networks are Strong, Topfield and Beyonwiz.

It is not known whether IceTV who have struggled to get their version of a set top box into retail stores are in discussions with the free to air TV networks who are keen to settle on a box that will broadcast content direct to multiple devices at once.

HbbTV can show digital television content from a number of different sources including traditional broadcast TV, internet, and connected devices in the home. To watch hybrid digital TV, consumers will need a hybrid IPTV set-top box with a range of input connectors, including Ethernet as well as at least two tuner for receiving broadcast TV signals.

HbbTV is an open, standard that was developed in Europe by German and French TV executives. 

Based on Web technologies and existing broadcasting standards HbbTV makes it easy for service developers and device manufacturers to build HbbTV-compatible products, applications and services similar to what is being developed by Australia's free to air TV networks, steering the project is Freeview Australia.

According to Russel Bryce the General Manager of Humax Australia 2014 could be a big year for set top boxes despite several TV Companies now building smart TV apps into their TV's.

"We are currently working with the TV networks to develop a box that will meet their requirements, we believe that 2014 will be a big year for set top boxes as the networks promote their new services" he said.

A recent report by HIS on the set top market claims that demand for set top boxes is set to grow not decline as several organisations including Foxtel move to a new generation of set top boxes. 

In its "Set-Top Box Market Monitor Global" report, IHS said shipments of STBs used for cable, satellite, terrestrial and IPTV digital TV services are forecast to climb to 269 million units this year, up 8 percent from 250 million in 2012.

HIS claim that STB shipments will grow 6 percent to 286 million in 2014 and by 1 percent to 290 million in 2015, which will represent the peak of the market for the foreseeable future.

 "STBs are facing a mounting challenge to their role as the dominant pay-TV video-consumption device because of operators' growing emphasis on supporting multiscreen devices," said Daniel Simmons, IHS senior principal analyst for TV technology. "However, operators are continuing to deploy STBs in order to manage the compatibility between their delivery networks and the consumer electronics devices that consumers are increasingly using to view content now.

"As pay-TV operators rush to accommodate changes in delivery platforms and in video formats - including the adoption of high definition - STB shipments will continue to rise, hitting record levels for the next few years."

IHS said pay-TV operators are focusing their attention on video delivery to multiscreen devices to try to stave off the competitive threat posed by platform-agnostic over-the-top services such as Foxtel, Quickflix and Telstra's BigPond movies. This will help boost the STB market as operators offer multimedia home-gateway STBs that can deliver services to PCs and portable devices, thus supporting the operator-as-an-app model, IHS added.

HIS said that shipments will begin to decline by 5 percent in 2016, IHS forecast, with another 2 percent decline seen in 2017. 

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