After suffering through a down year in 2003, the market for cable set top boxes is bouncing back in 2004, according to In-Stat/MDR. Total worldwide digital cable set top box unit shipments this year are projected to reach 10.87 mln, an increase of 11% over 2003. North American cable TV operators, who have been continually increasing their orders for both Personal Video Recorder (PVR)-enabled boxes and high-definition (HD)-enabled boxes, are fueling the majority of this growth.
Worldwide demand for digital cable set top boxes is expected to remain steady during the next five years, as rising demand for digital cable set top boxes in a few select Asian and European countries makes up for moderating demand in the all-important North American market, especially during the 2006 - 2008 time period. Motorola Broadband remains the leading manufacturer of digital cable set top boxes, although its market share lead over second-place Scientific-Atlanta has slipped during the past two years. However, the famous "duopoly" continues to dominate the cable set top box market. Through the first six months of 2004, the two companies accounted for 85% of all worldwide digital cable set top box unit shipments.
One in every five digital cable set top box unit shipments this year has been a PVR-enabled box. The popularity of products like Scientific-Atlanta's Explorer 8000 has propelled PVR-enabled cable set top box unit shipments to record levels in 2004. HD-enabled cable set top boxes are also in high-demand, and manufacturers are on track to ship over 2 mln HD cable set top boxes this year. In comparison, cable set top box manufacturers shipped just 750,000 HD boxes in 2003. The market for digital cable set top boxes in China, which is the largest cable market in the world with 100 mln cable TV subscribers, is finally beginning to show signs of life. During the first half of 2004, cable set top box manufacturers shipped an estimated 235,000 digital cable set top boxes to cable TV operators throughout the country.