The 4K set-top box market is set to explode, new research predicts, but the overall market will continue to decline as operators look at different ways to deliver video services.

ABI Research said the 4K set-top box market will grow from less than two million units in 2015 to more than seven million in 2016.

It will then grow by 46 percent annually through 2021.

However, the overall set-top box market remains in decline, with the research house forecasting a nine percent drop in 2016 to less than $16 billion in revenue.

India is likely surpass China as the market leader in terms of shipments during 2018 or 2019.

Sam Rosen, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research, said operators were “carefully considering” new ways to deliver video services through the use of streaming media adapters and adaptive bitrate.

Last week, BT unveiled plans to stream the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals on YouTube.

In April, TalkTalk unveiled an internet-based TV store that is built around its acquisition on blinkbox.

Rosen said: “Digital transitions are taking longer than initially planned and the market is experiencing significant downward pressure on set-top box pricing.

“Hardware revenues will fall, but value through software and services remains an opportunity.

“Providers should be looking to take on logistics and lifecycle challenges, in addition to testing and integration, to help the overall market flourish as well as focusing on 4K and HDR colour set-top boxes will in the years ahead.

He added: “It is important to note that satellite broadcast remains a significant factor in Pay TV distribution while terrestrial platforms, augmented by set-top boxes with some storage and advanced IP services, are becoming important for select telco operators who are backing away from licensing content.”

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