EchoStar to close US cable STB unit
April 24, 2012
By Colin Mann
EchoStar Technologies is withdrawing from the US cable set-top box market and is to cease development of its Aria platform immediately as a result of poor sales, the company told Multichannel News.
Instead, the company is to shift resources to support what it describes as it “unique intellectual property and advanced content-delivery technologies”. The company owns Sling Media, developer of the Slingbox device, and acquired the adaptive bit-rate technology of Move Technologies in 2011 for $45 million.
In a statement, EchoStar said it remained “firmly committed” to supplying advanced hardware, software, and system solutions to its global cable, satellite, and telecom customers outside of the US cable set top box market.
“EchoStar recognises that the highly demanding and competitive nature of the US set-top market is very cost-competitive,” the company said. “After considerable review of the market and EchoStar’s sales/product development efforts, EchoStar has concluded the US cable market offers insufficient revenue return opportunities to the company and our investors,” said the company.
The Aria suite of products, launched in 2011, included hybrid Internet STBs designed to let independent cable operators deliver over-the-top VOD and HD user interfaces.
The set-tops included ‘SlingLoaded’ units, which provided access to TV and DVR recordings programmes over the Internet. Along with the Aria devices, EchoStar was offering IP-based content delivered via the Internet to servers at an MSO’s headend, to let smaller cable operators deliver VOD, an HD guide and Slingbox features to customers without a large capital outlay for infrastructure.
The STB market has been tipped for consolidation, with reports suggesting Cisco is looking to sell its box-making unit, and Motorola’s unit likely to be disposed of once the acquisition by Google is complete. France’s Technicolor is also looking for a strategic partner for its STB operations.