Installed base of set-top box conditional access clients to pass 1 billion mark next year

Friday, October 25th, 2013
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LONDON — The global installed base of conditional access (CA) clients in set-top boxes (STB) is expected to exceed 1 billion units for the first time in 2014 as growth is driven by expanding demand in the emerging regions of Latin America, India and China.

The installed base of CA STB clients will rise to 1.1 billion units in 2014, up from 14 percent in 2013, and more than doubling the 479 million seen just five years earlier in 2009, according to the latest Conditional Access Market Monitor from IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS). The attached figure presents the IHS forecast of the global installed base of CA STB clients.


Conditional access is defined as any method or technology that prevents digital TV content from being viewed by those that have not been granted rights to view it. In STBs, CA clients come in a variety of implementations, including software that is either embedded into the STB or separate in the form of smartcards or subscriber identification modules.

“As television services continue to expand their reach into new regions, the installed base of STBs keeps rising,” said Daniel Simmons, senior principal STB analyst at IHS. “In parallel with this the expansion of the STB business, there has been growing demand for CA technology in cable, satellite and Internet protocol television (IPTV). Because of this, emerging markets continue to increase their demand for STB CA clients, even as established markets see slowing and even declines in annual growth. This allowed the installed base of CA clients to more than double in five years and will enable it to break through the 1 billion-unit barrier for the first time ever in 2014.”


Regions with well-established TV markets including North America and Japan are set to experience declining demand for STB CA clients in 2013 and 2014. The decline is especially sharp in Japan in 2013, as demand slowed down following a surge in sales driven by government subsidies for digital terrestrial television (DTT) STBs.

Emerging surging

In contrast, most of the expansion of the installed base in CA clients will be spurred by the emerging markets of China, Latin America, India and Eastern Europe.

Chinese cable set-top box shipments in particular have exploded, initiating the rise of a series of local specialist conditional access vendors, such a China Digital TV, Sumavision and Digital Video Networks. Growth is being further boosted by demand for free satellite, driven by the government’s TV project.

The Latin American region’s growth is primarily being stimulated by cable digitization and consumer uptake of pay satellite, particularly in Brazil and Mexico. Furthermore, Mexico’s encrypted DTT platform is also an important driver for CA growth in the region.

India’s growth, meanwhile, is propelled by the vigorous expansion of the country’s cable market.

And for the Eastern European markets of Romania, Russia and Ukraine, growth is a result of cable digitization, which is pushing overall CA expansion.

Command modules

Another form of CA client that has enjoyed fast growth in recent years is CA modules (CAMs). CAMs are employed in televisions that have built-in DTT, satellite and cable tuners.

During the period from 2009 to 2012, the CAM market grew at a 51 percent annual rate. This year, some 5.4 million CAMs will be shipped in the collective Europe, Africa and Middle East (EMEA) region.

CAMs now are used across the DTT, cable, satellite platforms. This wider adoption across platforms is due to the increased availability of TV sets with tuners.