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Netflix to replace hotel pay-per-view movies?

Barry Collins
20 Jan 2015
John Lewis JL9000
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Streaming video service coming to hotel room TVs - at a cost

The days of paying £10 to watch two-year-old movies on hotel TVs may be drawing to a close. Netflix has announced that it's partnering with Marriott hotels to deliver its video-on-demand service as in-room entertainment. 

The video streaming service is just one of the online content options that will be offered to visitors to one of eight Marroitt hotels in the US, as part of a trial. "We have invited leading technology companies and content providers to work with us to design the next wave in in-room entertainment focusing on on-demand programming," said John Wolf, a spokesman for Marriott, quoted in the San Diego Source. "We are currently offering guests in eight test hotels the opportunity to stream their content through our high-definition TVs whether it is Netflix, Hulu or Pandora."

The bad news for Marriott guests is that access to Netflix and the other services won't come free, even if you're an existing subscriber. The hotel is experimenting with different payment models, such as including Netflix in a premium internet access package or making it available to guests at a daily rate.

Nevertheless, it will probably be a better experience than attempting to watch Netflix on your own laptop/tablet/smartphone using the notoriously low-bandwidth Wi-Fi available in many hotels. Many establishments cap bandwidth to prevent guests from using video-on-demand services in a bid to regulate capacity, keep a lid on bandwidth bills, and (perhaps forlornly) drive people to the in-room entertainment services on offer via the television.

Marriott is particularly keen to control how its users access the internet in its hotels. The company recently paid a $600,000 fine to settle a complaint made by the US Federal Communications Commission, after it admitted blocking customers' own mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, forcing them to pay a hefty premium for the chain's Wi-Fi. Marriott claimed it was merely protecting its network from interference and security threats. 

Netflix effectively provides all of its customers with a worldwide subscription. When travelling in the US, subscribers to Netflix UK can log in to the US site and access a broader range of shows/films than is available to British audiences. British subscribers can also access Netflix US without leaving the country, if they apply a sneaky workaround... 

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