Although bandwidth demands are already difficult to keep up with, hotels should be prepared to go above and beyond the current usage very soon. Streaming television is quickly overtaking traditional viewing means, and travel is its next target.
More and more people have ditched cable or satellite in favor of streaming, and their number is expected to grow over the coming years. The major differences in streaming and traditional television viewing are the same things that will cause it to be an essential part of the guest experience in the near future.
The three major streaming services are Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Netflix recently hit 65 million subscribers, up 30% from the previous year, and is expected to continue growth at an even faster rate. Last year, Nielson found that 2.6 million households are “broadband only” – not a huge number, but it is more than double the amount from the year before.
Subscribing to all three of the top services costs approximately $32 per month. Compare that to the average cable cost in the U.S. for 2015 of $123 per month and the first reason for the switch is immediately clear. Other reasons include shorter or non-existent ads, personalized recommendations, and finally, portability.
It’s that portability factor that is already eating into hotel bandwidth. Guests can stream their favorite shows, picking up where they left off, on their phones, computers, and tablets. It is not uncommon to have two people in the same room viewing different content on different devices. But if consumers can stream to their own device, do hotels even need to bother?
The short answer is obviously yes. There will always be guests who want to view local news and other programming, or who aren’t subscribed to a streaming services. However, perhaps an exchange could be made, trading in the cost of cable to help cover the bandwidth that guests are already demanding anyway, and providing a streaming device (or smart TV) and local programming in the room at very little cost.
Streaming will quickly overtake traditional television, and I suspect that travelers will be expecting it much sooner than many people realize just yet. What steps is your hotel taking considering streaming television?