Set-top box demand 'softens;' subscriber counts down

There could be a correlation between a recent report by In-Stat that cable set-top box growth "slowed significantly" in 2009 and that 2010 "is on track to be the first year of negative growth since 2002" and ongoing reports that the pay TV business is shrinking.

In-Stat, in its report The Worldwide Cable Set-top Box Market: Challenges and Opportunities forecasted that worldwide digital set-top box unit shipments will decrease 8 percent to 44.1 million in 2010 and that the market share of the top three set-top box makers (according to In-Stat)--Motorola (NYSE: MOT), Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Technicolor--were down to 41 percent of worldwide unit shipments from 50 percent in 2009.

On a positive note for cable box vendors standing on the ledges of their high-rise buildings, In-Stat Principal Analyst Mike Paxton decided that "Even in a soft year, the cable set-top box market continues to offer solid growth opportunities for cable set-top box manufacturers ... if (they) target emerging regional markets or if they focus on high margin product categories like HD or PVR-enable cable set-top boxes."

Elsewhere in the wide, wide world of cable, industry observers are putting together the pieces from recent second quarter earnings statements and concluding that the pay TV business ain't what it used to be. The entire industry, satellite, cable and telecom, lost 216,000 customers in the quarter, the New York Post summed. Last year, 378,000 subs climbed aboard. Of course, last year the digital transition helped people make that decision as well.

For more:
- see this news release
- and this story

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