Demand for cable set-top boxes remains flat; Scientific-Atlanta is exception to trend

The global market for cable set-top boxes is projected to be flat again during 2003, according to research by In-Stat/MDR, the high-tech market research firm. It’s the second consecutive year that demand for digital cable set-top boxes has remained soft as cable TV operators around the world continue to reduce their capital expenditures.

Worldwide digital cable set-top box unit shipments are projected to reach 9.97 million this year, a slight decrease from the 10.03 million unit shipments in 2002. Soft market or not, most leading cable set-top box manufacturers are continuing to develop new products that support interactive video and communications services, the research found.

"Many of these products, particularly cable set-top boxes that support HDTV service or come with integrated Personal Video Recording (PVR) capabilities, have become quite popular with both cable operators and cable TV subscribers,” said Mike Paxton, senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR. “In fact, those cable set-top box manufacturers who have moved the fastest to develop and deploy these new products have been rewarded with increased market share.”

Scientific-Atlanta has shipped more than 200,000 Explorer 3250HD digital set-tops to cable operators.

An example is Scientific-Atlanta, who has increased its digital cable set-top box top worldwide market share from 31 percent in 2002 to 40 percent during the first half of 2003. Much of Scientific-Atlanta’s increased market share can be attributed to the company’s rapid roll out of high-definition and PVR-enabled digital cable set top boxes, research found.

In-Stat/MDR said it expects the market for digital cable set-top boxes to remain relatively flat for the next several years, with unit shipment totals averaging between 10 million and 11 million boxes per year. Long-term market growth largely depends on wider availability of digital cable TV services in Western Europe and in parts of Asia.

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