PACE, the UK television set-top box developer, gave its investors an upbeat view of its prospects in the light of a three-year contract with US broadcasting giant Comcast.
Believed to be worth between $375m and $550m (£214m–£315m), the Comcast deal is the biggest payback yet for Pace’s strategy of broadening its customer base.
The Yorkshire company is attempting to end its traditional reliance on the near-saturated home market and concentrate on international pay-TV operators.
In this the US is seen as the biggest prize of all, estimated to be worth 40 per cent of the global pay-TV market.
To back this strategy, Pace has invested heavily in R&D to develop a range of more complex products in areas such as personal video recorders (PVRs) and high-definition TV.
In a bid to stay ahead of consumer demand the company has also unveiled a pay-TV iPod-style device, dubbed PVR2GO. This will allow pay-TV subscribers with personal video recorders to download programmes, then watch them later on the mobile unit. The firm could offer PVR2GO commercially by the middle of next year.
Pace made a pre-tax profit of £8.1m for the year ending June, up from £5.9m. It set a record for set-top box shipments with volumes increasing by 55 per cent to 3.4 million, boosting turnover to £253m from £240m. This was aided by increased shipments into continental Europe, especially Italy where the company was leadsupplier in Sky Italia’s digital upgrade programme. Shipments subsequently increased from 700,000 to 1.9 million boxes.
The firm has also announced new orders for PVRs and a contract for Europe’s first high-definition set-top box for commercial deployment in Germany.
Sir Michael Bett, chairman of Pace, said: ‘These improved results demonstrate Pace’s continued technological leadership, greater penetration of the digital television global market and success in balancing the demands of gaining market share with control of productivity and business costs.’