Like hybrid cars, hybrid set-tops aren’t ubiquitous yet, but you can expect to see more of them in the coming years, particularly in Europe.

According to the IMS Research study "The World Market for Hybrid Set-Top Boxes," shipments of hybrid set-tops are forecast at 82 million worldwide for 2014. The hybrids typically offer dual reception capabilities, such as satellite plus IP or digital terrestrial TV (DTT) plus IP, said Rebecca Kurlak, a research analyst in IMS’ CE Group.

"What we’re talking about is mostly something that has dual functionality," she said. A common arrangement is to receive linear programming via one mode and VOD via the other, such as satellite for linear and wired IP for on-demand content. (For more on hybrid TV, click here.)

Here in the United States, hybrids are relatively few and mainly used by telcos such as AT&T and Verizon. But hybrids are big in Europe.

"The hotbed right now is Western Europe," Kurlak said. "We’re seeing a lot of it in the UK and France. In terms of the UK, there’s a lot of IP plus DTT boxes deployed by NetGem. IP is your main linear programming for television, but you can still receive the free-to-air channels."

French operators using hybrids include France Telecom, Canal+, and Numericable. Elsewhere in Europe, Get Cable in Norway, Telecom Italia, and Fastweb (also in Italy) are also deploying hybrids. Kurlak expects deployments to expand both numerically and geographically.

"(As) the UK and France are starting to reach saturation, some of the manufacturers are focusing on other surrounding countries such as Germany, Spain, Portugal," she said, adding that they are also looking at Asia.

Manufacturers in the hybrid set-top space include ADB, Motorola, Pace Micro, Thomson, Amino, Cisco and others, many of whom will be showing their wares at next week’s ANGA show in Cologne, Germany.

Though Europe is the main focus today, Kurlak expects a growing Stateside market in the next few years.

"Here in the U.S. for hybrid, I projected that there’s going to be a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.6 percent through 2014, and the base year on that is 2008," she said.

– Ron Hendrickson

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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