Home Opinions The future of the set-top box

The future of the set-top box

Share on

By Menno Koopmans, senior VP subscription broadcasting, Universal Electronics
 
When smart TVs were launched there was a lot of chatter about them replacing the set-top box. As with the launch to any new technology there will be naysayers and proponents alike; but when it comes to the set-top box, the end is far from nigh. In fact, set-top box sales are actually on the increase. Analyst house, Research and Markets forecasts the global HD set-top box market will grow at a rate of 2.38% until 2018.
 
Another reason why it’s not quite the end for the set-top box is that although markets are reaching saturation in some parts of Europe and the U.S., emerging markets are hungry for it and the content that they can get.
 
And when it comes to the viewer, the consumer of content, it’s all about what they’re watching, how they’re watching it and when they’re watching it. As a result, there’s stiff competition in the market between traditional broadcasters, broadcasters with streaming services and, of course, OTT providers like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.
 
The one thing these providers have in common, is the need to deliver the best possible customer experience. And whether that means offering viewers multiple ways to watch their favourite shows — on the television, their laptops, smartphones, or tablets, it’s the customer and their demands at the heart of it.
 
And regardless of where the content comes from, or which device it’s watched on, it needs to be controlled and interacted with. But with the increase of choice comes the increase of complexity which affects the overall customer experience.
 
So how do you ensure that complexity is reduced, but choice and engagement remain?
 
Ultimately it rests on the humble remote control. The entertainment ecosystem no longer just consists of a TV and DVD player. Now, there are myriad of devices connected to the TV, from laptops, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players, to sound bars, amplifiers, and games consoles. And these devices have to be controlled, often from different remotes. Along with the added complexity, searching for content becomes a challenge. Navigating the different systems and menus should be quick, easy and as painless as possible, otherwise users will simply abandon the process and seek content elsewhere.
 
Using a remote control — with buttons, gesture or voice — to navigate becomes the key part in the customer experience. For manufacturers, the ideal solution would be their brand to be the sole fixture in the living room, with one remote controlling the entire stack. But this just isn’t viable, especially as customers like the range of choice available to them.
 
The solution then, in creating and maintaining a streamlined user experience, is for content providers and device manufacturers to enable remotes to be used universally. The remote control that is the easiest to set-up and offers the most compatibility with the electronic devices in the consumers home is likely to be the consumer favourite for controlling access to their content, no matter which device the content is on.
 
Whatever the future may hold — smart TV versus set-top box, or perhaps something even more technologically advanced, the customer experience remains the focal point for both content providers and manufacturers. And key to delivering that experience is, without a doubt, the remote control.


Share on