Hybrid Set-Top Boxes are the new trend in the Indian broadcasting sector right now. Announced back in 2017, the Airtel Internet TV was probably the first hybrid Set-Top Box launched in India. Airtel Internet TV combines both Satellite TV and OTT content together as it runs the Android TV platform. Very recently, Airtel Digital TV launched the Airtel Xstream Box Set-Top Box as its new hybrid box and Dish TV also came out with Dish SMRT Hub providing an additional choice to the users who want to watch OTT content right on their Set-Top Box itself. In other news, Cable TV operators are also coming out with their own hybrid Set-Top Boxes which allows the users to watch Cable TV and OTT content. In fact, Reliance Jio's 4K Set-Top Box also offers Cable TV port to the users.
Why the Need for Hybrid Set-Top Boxes
The smart or hybrid Set-Top Boxes are something that surfaced as the result of DTH operators trying to bring online content on the TV screens. Although there were devices which allowed the users to watch OTT content on their TV screens, like the Amazon Fire TV Stick, they did not have much adaptability across the country. There were clear user behaviour patterns which pointed out that OTT content was being consumed on smartphone and laptop screens, whereas the Satellite TV channels were on the TV screens only. However, this meant that DTH operators and channels were losing viewership, so naturally, the next step was to bring subscribers back to their TV screens, and this was done by bringing the OTT content as well, by means of a smart Set-Top Box.
Smart Set-Top Boxes Explained
Going by that inference, a smart set-top box is something that will let you access both your OTT content online and the satellite TV channels side by side. Whereas, in contrast to that, a standard set-top box is limited to simply providing the satellite TV channels. The three most prominent hybrid Set-Top boxes available in the market right now are the Airtel Xstream Box, Dish SMRT Box and the Jio 4K Set-Top Box. Cable TV operator GTPL Hathway is also testing its own hybrid Set-Top Box in various cities of Gujarat right now, but the official launch is expected to happen sometime later this year.
Both of these set-top boxes come with the ability to connect to the internet and not only that, but they also come with pre-installed applications like Netflix, Amazon Prime, ZEE5, Hotstar which can be accessed by the viewer. Not only this, but they also get a connection with the Dish, which means that viewers can flip between the satellite TV channels and the OTT content any time. Also, instead of using a different remote to control both of these things, the viewer can control the TV using a single remote, thus increasing the ease of usage. This is how a hybrid Set-top box differs from a standard Set-Top Box.
What are the Hybrid Set-Top Boxes Available Right Now?
Airtel Digital TV came up with Airtel Xstream Box recently that runs on Android TV 9.0 platform. Dish TV also introduced the Dish SMRT Hub box last month and it also runs the Android TV platform. Reliance Jio is currently in the process of shipping its Jio 4K Set-Top Box to the customers and it also expected to run a forked version of Android TV.