UltraHD, HEVC set-top box shipments "to explode"
Joseph O'Halloran
| 12 November 2014
One of the first fruits of the accelerating pace of 4KTV equipment development will be a huge spike in UltraHD- and HEVC-capable set-top boxes shipments to 2020, according to ABI Research

page 3 picIn its latest analysis of the market, Set-top Box and Home Networks Market Research, ABI calculates that worldwide UltraHD capable set-top box shipments will reach 48 million by 2020, while the market for HEVC set-top boxes — the next-generation of video compression technology — will rise even further to 88 million units. Such growth is more impressive given that, says ABI, by the end of 2014 the market will deploy only about 60,000 STBs and high-end gateway set-top boxes with UltraHD and HEVC capabilities.

Assessing the likely growth drivers, ABI expects that after an initial push of high-end UltraHD capable boxes in multi-tuner gateway boxes, a second round of HD HEVC boxes will likely roll out in areas with demand for high definition services where it believes last-mile network build-out isn't otherwise sufficient to deploy HD MPEG-4 services. Examples offered include Technicolor securing a design win for Tata Sky's UltraHD deployment in India; Sumitomo delivering set-tops for the NTT Playa in Japan; and BSkyB's rumoured plans to build its own devices as part of the so-called Project Ethan with early prototypes and designs based primarily on Broadcom 725x SoC with Broadcom or ViXS decoders.

"HEVC is an enabler not just of UltraHD — an immersive digital experience which will give benefits especially to consumers using 55" and larger screens," explained to ABI research practice director Sam Rosen. "It also will enable delivery of interactive HD services to consumers whose homes do not have high bandwidth interactive services. Beyond the strong penetration of HEVC and UltraHD set-top boxes, we see IPTV boxes developing to include terrestrial tuners for hybrid services licensing retransmission of all free-to-air services."