Worldwide sales of TV set-top boxes are expected to remain fairly flat in 2012, with sales expanding from 225 million units in 2011 to just 228 million units this year, according to predictions from analyst Futuresource Consulting.
That is despite the fact that manufacturers are launching a new generation of set-top boxes such as media gateways and smart boxes with features such as wireless routing, multi-platform content management and multi-room delivery.
"As demand from maturing pay-TV markets such as north America and western Europe begins to slow, the market will start to see moderate decline over the next few years," Futuresource said in a statement.
"The UK accounts for 16 per cent of western European pay set-top-box demand, which was 21.5 million for the 2011 calendar year. Despite the growth of pay-TV homes slowing, box demand will be sustained through customer upgrades including Virgin's TiVo service and Sky's HD platform."
The firm said that cable represents the largest proportion of pay-TV homes and close to half of all pay set-top box demand in western Europe, where a continuing migration to digital services will drive cable set-top box sales to grow until at least 2014.
Cable operators are however losing analogue subscribers to alternative pay platforms and free-to-air, and the number of cable subscribers will fall over the forecast period, reducing long-term demand for set-top boxes, according to Futuresource.
The strongest growth in set-top box sales is predicted overseas, including in the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America.
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