By Les Spielman
In our article, “Are you wasting money and losing guests with your HDTV?”, I described the minimum requirements needed for today and the future for your in-room TV sets. Today, we examine some new technologies that could potentially save you and your property (ies) a lot of money in infrastructure and legal video content fees, both “real time”, “VOD”, and “streaming internet content”.
Many TV sets today, including LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Vizio, Sony and several others, but not Westinghouse, offer a large variety of “apps” built directly into their higher end HDTV models whether they be LED, LCD, or Plasma. These TV sets are now equipped with WiFi capabilities, and also LAN (RJ45 inputs). This added functionality, allows you to save huge amounts of money, and in many cases increase your pay per view revenue.
HOW DOES THIS WORK?
If you can currently receive OTA (over the air) TV programming via a regular TV antenna, you will find that in over 90% of the U.S., and many other countries, you can supply your guest with local TV stations on a FTG (Free to Guest) basis. Free, with no fees to any company or individual. In most areas you will find the type of signal that the local TV stations are being broadcast in is 1080i format. Your cost for that content is $0.00 [local license fees may apply].
Now for the most interesting part, the built in “apps” in the HDTV with WiFi, and/or LAN enabled, are all VOD content. An interesting free “app” is AP® NewsTicker. It is a screen crawl positioned on the bottom of the screen, about 1 – 2 inches high, which feeds the latest breaking news in the areas that you are interested in (sports, politics, stock market, weather alerts, world news etc.) The following is only a partial listing of available “apps”. Some are free, some are PPV, where you, the hotelier, can make extra commissions: NetFlix, Vudu, Yahoo, Accu Weather, Cinemania, Explore 3D, FaceBook, YouTube, Blockbuster, Google maps, Hulu Plus, Napster, Pandora, SPS TV, and Texas Holdem. Plus you can go to the TV set’s main “app” menu and drill down to exactly what you want to watch, i.e., sports, kids, games, news, etc. More and more content is being added as this article is being written. There are several accounting systems that can charge the guest for extra bandwidth, or PPV content [This is still in Beta as of this writing]. However, the choice is yours.
WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS?
By now you are probably wondering what are the pitfalls. First and foremost, you will need a WiFi enabled TV set. With this you also require additional Internet bandwidth but there is a huge bright spot here. If you are building a new property you don’t need to install a wired TV network. You can simply deploy a WiFi network. In the case of a retrofit, there is no need to start breaking walls for HSIA cables. There is no need for cable. We have previously seen costs of over $500,000 for this. However, you will need more WiFi Access Points.