HEVC Enabled and Ultra HD 4K Set-top Box Sales will explode over the next 5 years
by Stephan Jukic – November 10, 2014
According to the latest findings from market research firm ABI Research, the worldwide market for Ultra HD and HEVC capable set-top boxes will explode over the next 5 years due to a mix of factors including surging consumer demand for streaming ultra HD services, wider proliferation of 4K TVs and the expansion of ultra-high speed internet services.
Somewhat tenuous estimates made by ABI indicate that by 2020, the number of Ultra HD 4K set-top boxes shipped will reach as many as 48 million in that year and the number of HEVC enabled set-top boxes, whether for Ultra HD or conventional HD, will reach a massive 88 million units shipped worldwide.
In 2014, the current market for HEVC and UHD enabled boxes is still very small and while well over 250 million set-top boxes in general have shipped worldwide in this year alone (29 million to the U.S alone), total numbers of 4K UHD and HEVC enabled set-top media boxes of the most high-end type are expected to number only about 60,000 sold and shipped.
However, given the current trends in the development of 4K TV and broadband connectivity, these numbers can be expected to expand enormously over the coming 5 to 6 years. After expanding sales of Ultra HD boxes with multi-tuner gateways are pushed through in the next year, we can also expect to see a large growth in sales of Full HD HEVC enabled boxes to also occur as consumers in areas not yet equipped with the last mile network infrastructure that enables deployment of streaming UHD and HD MPEG-4 services.
When it comes to UHD in particular, set-top boxes are particularly important due to their ability to deliver 4K content even in situations where ordinary streaming internet services like Netflix aren’t so accessible or viewable thanks to poor internet connectivity.
A number of companies have secured contracts and plans that revolve around the set-top market. Technicolor, for example, will be designing the Tata Sky Ultra HD set-top boxes that will be deployed in various parts of India. In Japan on the other hand, Sumitomo Electric delivers set-tops for NTT Playa.
The HEVC decoding technology that goes into these new set-top boxes being built and shipped worldwide is primarily important for 4K content delivery since it compresses the extremely large data loads of a UHD video stream into a size that’s much more manageable to higher end broadband web connections and other terrestrial feeds.
However, the importance of HEVC also extends to easier delivery of interactive Full HD services and HD content for homes that lack high bandwidth.
Currently, HEVC compatiblity has become crucial in any 4K T or media system because HEVC is the default video encoding mechanism for the majority of streaming providers, particularly those who deliver 4K movies and shows. These include Netflix, Amazon and Ultraflix to name a few. The upcoming new Blu-ray 4K disc format that will go on sale in 2015 along with its accompanying disc player will also use HEVC internally to deliver the discs’ content to connected ultra HD TVs.
Story by 4k.com