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The introduction of High Definition (HD) channels and Smart TVs has led to an increase in digital TV viewing which in turn will hike the growth of the Set top box (STB) market. One of the hallmark product categories in the consumer electronics segment, the STB market in India is poised for unprecedented growth.
The Cable Television Networks (CTN) Amendment Bill 2011 mandates digitization of TV broadcasts pan India by 2014. This bill has provided the necessary thrust for driving growth of the STB market, both cable and satellite. The STB market recorded a total market (TM, which represents consumption) of 18.4 M units, of which satellite STB accounted for 10.4 M units in 2012. A Frost & Sullivan study estimates that the total market (TM, total consumption) for STB was 23.52 M units in 2013 and is expected to reach volumes of 39.4 M units by 2015 representing a healthy CAGR of 29.3 percent.
According to Niju V, Director, Automation & Electronics Practices, Frost & Sullivan:
“Cumulative demand of over 100 million STBs between 2013 and 2015 highlights the immense potential this market has. This huge domestic demand indicates the need for increased indigenous manufacturing as currently the local production caters to only 30 percent of the demand.”
Niju V further opined:
“Efforts underway by empowered committees such as the Core Advisory Group for R&D in Electronics Hardware, CAREL to define specifications for indigenous STB and STB System-on-chip (SoC) are expected to culminate in made in India/ made for India STBs in the near future.”
Jabil, Dixon, Quad, Nainko, and Kortek electronics are some of the EMS companies manufacturing STBs in India, though they predominantly cater to the exports market. Amongst indigenous manufacturers, Videocon and myBox are the noteworthy names.
Meeting the demand for STBs through domestic production is not possible immediately. However, digitization has opened up immense opportunities for domestic manufacturing to pick up. Local production of STBs is projected to rise in the future as the Indian Government pushes consumers to switch over to digital TV before December 2014 as part of its cable TV digitization policy. In addition, increase in local manufacturing of STBs is expected to ease supply chain challenges and lower the costs incurred by service providers currently.
The DTH industry and cable operators are plagued by huge operational challenges. This is due to the multiple taxes such as service tax, entertainment tax, license fee, and VAT that the industry is compelled to part with. In contrast, suppliers in countries like China and Korea witness enormous support from financial institutions like EXIM banks, which offer long-term credit over three to five years, at extremely low interest rates. A similar support system is needed to promote indigenous manufacturers in India. Currently, no such financing is available in the country, as this is not treated as a capital goods industry.
STB is a product that requires very close cooperation between the operator and the STB manufacturer and hence requires a high level of customer support as well. Also, at the national level, there are organizations like the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which are extremely important for implementing standardizations. This will not allow cheap, low quality STBs coming into India unlike the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand that brought in cheap and low standard STBs to the country.