One Remote Control: Will STBs of the Future Solve TV Fragmentation?

The rise of over-the-top (OTT) content and TV Everywhere has given consumers the ability to watch more programming on more devices that ever before.But it’s also created an extremely fragmented environment where there are an excess number of platforms and devices that can be used to watch content. And all of that fragmentation brings problems like authentication and lack of interoperability into the customer’s home.

Whichever company remedies those problems quickest and most effectively is likely in for a huge pay day, as consumers want convenience and as little annoyance as possible. When will we see a singular set-top box (STB) that allows customers to seamlessly digest content across a variety of platforms?

According to a recent report by ABI Research, pay-TV operators will be the ones leading the charge in designing such an STB. These operators steer the direction of the boxes, the research indicates, with both hardware and semiconductor manufacturers following their lead.

RDK, a project backed by Comcast, Time Warner and Liberty Global, is taking steps in this direction by developing a shared-source operation system.

“Similar to the impact of Android in the smartphone market, RDK will improve compatibility between different hardware boxes and even down to the step-top box chipset level,” explained Sam Rosen, practice director at ABI. “While today’s STB market is highly fragmented, these common platforms will enable efficiencies leading both consolidation through further mergers and acquisitions, but also force some natural consolidation.”

It’s likely that we will see a day, perhaps even in the not-so-distant future, when we will be able to access content from multiple platforms via a single remote control. It’s about time.