The demise of the STB has been suggested before, and may yet be somewhat exaggerated, but it is indeed what leading analyst HIS Screen Digest is proposing at least for one segment of the pay-TV industry.

The analyst is predicting that by 2016, STBs 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 multiscreen deployments.

According to the IHS Screen Digest TV Multiscreen Intelligence service, by 2015, nearly half (49%) of all devices obtaining television services from 43 of the largest global pay-TV operators that have begun deployment of multiscreen services—will be PCs, smartphones, tablets and other so-called multiscreen devices. If true, this would represent a huge leap from the 18% at the end of in 2011. IN the same time period, the analyst predicts that STBs’ share will decline to just 51% of pay-TV operator devices from 82% in 2011.

In general, IHS predicts that the global installed base of pay-TV STBs associated with multiscreen operators will grow to 321.7 million units in 2015, up 17% from 2011’s figure. At the same time, it expects multiscreen devices actively receiving pay-TV services to rise to 310.1 million, up more than 400% from 2011.

It all means that a new era is dawning in the pay-TV industry, asserted Tom Morrod, IHS senior principal analyst, TV Technology, one in which subscribers can access television services on the device of their choosing, rather than being limited to using STBs as generally dictated to by operators. “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 multiscreen deployment. For the 43 major operators tracked by IHS Screen Digest that have deployed multiscreen services, this means that multiscreen devices will supplant STBs as the leading pay-TV access devices by 2016,” Morrod explained.

The analyst also revealed that in 2011 PCs were the most common devices associated with multiscreen pay-TV deployments, followed by devices based on Apple’s iOS operating system, notably iPhones, iPads and the iPod touch. However, by 2015, the number of iOS devices accessing pay-TV services will likely have risen by nearly 800% while PCs will expand by only about half that rate. Hot on the heels of iOS will be Android, whose base of devices connected to pay-TV will grow by a staggering 1,200%. In the Android market, says IHS, the increasing availability of smartphones with larger screens and the rising shipments of tablets will propel the expanding use of pay-TV.

Also by 2015, say the analyst, 11 pay-TV operators will be supporting content and subscribers on more multiscreen devices than on their own set-top boxes. Bell Canada, will likely be supporting almost eight times as many phones and tablets in 2015 than STBs with multiscreen devices accounting for as much as 89% total consumer end-points accessing pay-TV content. BSkyB is expected to be support approximately 1.5 devices per STB installed by 2015 driven by its Sky Go and forthcoming NOW TV over the top service.