DirecTV’s Genie, Liberty Global’s Horizon, Dish’s Hopper and the boxes that power Comcast’s X1 service have something in common other than better marketing names than an older generation of boxes more commonly known by model names such as “DCT6200”. These feature-rich boxes bring more tuners to centralise DVR resources (minimising DVR conflicts), as well as better processing power, according to ABI reserach. This horsepower improves responsiveness and user interface, and will also act as a “Trojan Horse” as operators look to extend home automation and energy management services into homes.
These feature-rich gateway boxes were first shipped in small quantities in 2010. According to ABI Research’s findings, last year North American and Western European operators shipped 4.5 million units in a market which is conservatively estimated to grow 84 per cent to 8.5 million by 2018.
Practice director Sam Rosen commented, “Operators have made decisions to move to gateway boxes for economic reasons, but more and more they are leveraging the power of those boxes to improve the quality and consistency of the experience they offer to consumers. Advertising campaigns highlighting unique features will supplement price and bundle oriented campaigns and target higher-end customers. US satellite operator Dish networks, for example, will highlight the uniqueness of its watch anywhere model, which is less subject to rights agreements than other operators.”