Research says: STB market to remain stable

Set-top box revenues in North America will decline 5% from 2008 to 2009, but volumes will actually rise, albeit at a relatively weak 9.3% annual rate over the same period, according to Austin based IMS Research. Globally, the company is forecasting a 2% decline in revenues from 2008 to 2009 on 5% volume growth.

Anna Hunt, IMS’ Consumer Electronics research director, said in a statement: “While the market crisis has made financing an issue for some operators in developing regions, most are still pursing their digitization strategies, including HD and PVR rollouts that require new set-top boxes.”

Hunt continues, “while many consumers will very likely cut back on their entertainment budgets, TV remains a relatively cheap form of entertainment. Nonetheless, we are expecting ARPU growth to slow or even decline during the period. As a result, set-top suppliers are expecting considerable pressure on pricing in 2009, and low-cost segments such as cable DTA adapters could see considerable growth during the next two years.”

However, according to Stephen Froehlich, a senior analyst in IMS’ Consumer Electronics group, “The assumed recession hits the TV set market at a particularly critical juncture, destroying a major profit opportunity for TV manufacturers. By the time the economy recovers in 2010 or 2011 and consumers are willing to buy more expensive sets, the high-performance (120 Hz, high contrast ratio), LCD TV market will be much more commoditized than it is now, removing a major profit opportunity for Samsung, Sony, and other competitors in the luxury TV segment.”

IMS Research expects global TV set revenues to be off by 11% in 2009, down to $90 billion from $101 billion in 2008 on a volume decline of just 2%.

Froehlich continues, “TV suppliers are cutting costs in their designs for now but are also working feverishly to find ways to add new value to their sets, exploring features such as Internet video and 3D goggle support. However, our current analysis is that neither of these are likely to be major profit generators for anyone except the studios.”