Is the Set-Top Box Dead?

June 26, 2023 8:23 am Published by

By: Jason Power, Senior Director Commercial Partnerships, Dolby

Dusty. Under-appreciated. Is time up for the little box sitting under our TVs?

But hang on. What if that box could solve the problem of making all content available in one place? And what if that box could transform the viewing experience from plain old TV into full immersive home cinema?

Witness the explosion of service super-aggregation, with a new generation of operator set-top boxes powering the way.

“It’s no use having a super-aggregation strategy if users are still tempted back to TV apps”

Of course, it’s no use having an aggregation strategy if users are still tempted back to TV apps. To keep viewers switched to your service, the UI needs to streamline discoverability of content. And the playback experience itself needs to match or exceed what is already available via connected TV apps. That means, for example, the set top box supporting Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision outputs, so services like Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video can be enjoyed in their full glory, just like on the TV apps.

But there’s another reason why I’m excited for the future of the set-top box. We are starting to see a new device paradigm that we refer to as the Integrated Set-top Box Soundbar. A device that can transform the viewing experience from normal television into full home cinema. A device that reinforces an operator’s commitment to delivering the widest selection of content with the best possible experience. A device that re-establishes a premium position for operators and makes their service indispensable in the living room.

“Small box. Big sound.”

The Integrated Set Top Box Soundbar combines a flexible set top box platform with support for the latest Dolby Atmos immersive sound and built-in speakers. All of this can be packaged in a device not much bigger than a standard set top box. Think of it as a small box with a big sound.

The Sagemcom VSB is a flexible compact design

“The Video Soundbox allows to combine all services expected today by consumers in an all-in-one compact product, thanks to latest video, sound and far field voice services innovations. Sagemcom developed this multi-service multi-user product with best-in-class partners, such as  Bang & Olufsen for powerful and natural sound, as artists intended it to be, and Dolby for an immersive Home Cinema experience, with the support of Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. We are proud to have already been selected by about 20 operators for the Video Soundbox, enabling them to reinforce a value proposition based on video service, increasing revenue and NPS, and reducing churn.”, said Olivier Taravel, Senior Executive Vice President, Audio Video Solutions Business Unit, Sagemcom.

Integrated Set Top Box Soundbars enable home cinema at a new price point and in a new form factor for consumers. For operators, costs are kept low as the existing processing power of the set-top can be used, so the key added components are just some speakers. For subscribers, it means great sound with no bewildering equipment choices to make, no additional boxes to find space in the living room for, no extra HDMI connections to faff with. All offered simply and conveniently by their service provider.

It’s exciting to see the ways that the first operators are already making use of Integrated Set Top Box Soundbars to drive incremental revenues and reduce churn. Operators deploying including Orange, Vodafone, TotalPlay, StarHub, Claro and more.

Integrated Set Top Box Soundbars are being deployed by operators globally

Some operators see it as a chance to create new revenue streams through premium subscriptions. This can represent phenomenal value for consumers – how else can you get a premium branded home cinema system in your living room for just a few dollars extra a month? The integrated set-top box soundbar also defends against pressure on subscriber ASPs as other functionality, such as recording, moves to the cloud.

Other operators see these devices as an incentive for retention – if you depend on the box for your whole living room playback experience, how are you going to do without it?

Click HERE  to find out more.

Categorised in:

This post was written by Dolby Laboratories