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HDTV Insights Series: How to Save Money on Video Content

The article in part one of this series, “Are You Wasting Money and Losing Guests with Your HDTV?” described the minimum requirements needed for current future in-room TV sets. This article will examine some of the new technologies that could potentially save hoteliers and their property(ies) a lot of money in infrastructure and legal video content fees for real time, VOD, and streaming Internet content.
Many TV sets today, including LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Vizio, Sony and several others, 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 Wi-Fi capabilities, and also LAN (RJ45 inputs). This added functionality, can allow hoteliers to save huge amounts of money, and in many cases increase 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 more than 90 percent of the U.S., and in many other countries, you can supply your guests with local TV stations on a FTG (Free to Guest) basis. Free, with no fees to any company or individual. In most areas you with 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 HDTVs with Wi-Fi, 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 one to two inches high, which feeds the latest breaking news in the areas that you are interested in (sports, politics, the stock market, weather alerts, world news etc.) The following is only a partial listing of available “apps”. Some are free, while others 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 the pitfalls are for this solution. First and foremost, you will need a Wi-Fi enabled TV set. With this hoteliers will 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 Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi Access Points.
Les Spielman is CEO and founder of Hospitality Automation Consultants Ltd., an independent consulting firm with more than 30 years of hands on experience in the lodging industry. Spielman has served two elected consecutive terms on the Board of Directors of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants and is a proud member of HTNG. His practice is global with associated offices in Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and PRC.
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