AT&T, Dish take aim at emerging in-room hotel streaming opportunity

Hotel Room
With most consumers owning at least one mobile device with which to consume various video services such as YouTube, Netflix or Hulu, it’s likely new services that let users transmit this video onto the large TV will resonate.

AT&T and Dish recently released a set of services that allow travelers to effectively stream their video services over their hotel TVs, signaling a new trend that the hospitality industry wants to give hotel patrons a living room-like video experience.

Traditionally, travelers that stayed in a hotel were beholden to the hotel’s video system, but it is clear AT&T and Dish are trying to change that trend.

Working in conjunction with SONIFI Solutions, AT&T Hotels and other institutions that have DirecTV services can order the telco’s Staycast service. Staycast leverages Google Chromecast for each hotel property.

RELATED: AT&T tries to reignite DirecTV Now growth

Offering an at-home experience when travelers are on the road, users can stream their favorite shows and movies from a personal device to the in-room TV. Guests aren’t required to separately log in to the TV and it is also compatible with existing wiring and all DirecTV HD systems.

AT&T’s streaming solution can be integrated into new and existing properties with any DirecTV HD Entertainment system such as DIRECTV Residential Experience (DRE), COM1000 and COM2000. By offering this service, AT&T claims that hotel guests get more content to choose from than what is offered by the hotel chain’s video system.

No less compelling is Dish’s Evolve, a 4K-capable Android TV set-top box that seamlessly integrates streaming apps, live linear programming and casting into one customizable solution.

Evolve offers guests a way to engage with content from their mobile tablets and smartphone devices using their room’s TV. Leveraging its Smartbox solution, Dish’s headend video distribution platform for commercial applications, Evolve can work with any hotel wiring scenario, as well as existing or upgraded infrastructures.

It also offers an array of options to deliver video inside hotel rooms: QAM or IP, and internet connectivity over DOCSIS, Ethernet or Wi-Fi (2.4/5GHz).

Joel Espelien, senior analyst with TPG, told FierceOnlineVideo that these services are a sign that hotel chains realize their guests want to be able to control how they view content.

“I do like these services,” Espelien said. “As with airlines, hotels are seeing people moving away from consuming content via the traditional proprietary services.”

Friendlier usage method

These new services enable a friendlier usage method for business and consumer travelers.

With most consumers owning at least one mobile device, like a tablet or smartphone, with which to consume various video services such as YouTube, Netflix or Hulu, it’s likely these new services that let users transmit this video onto the large TV will resonate.

Espelien said that the advantage of AT&T’s Staycast and Dish's Evolve reflects the downward trend for in-room pay-per-view service.

“People prefer to just watch on their own screens,” Espelien said. “If this new service easily lets people watch Netflix or HBO Go on the road on the big screen in the room (rather than on their phone), I do think people will use it.”

Alan Wolk, lead analyst at TV[R]EV, agreed, adding that users who have existing online video accounts typically like viewing their content on the road.

“People have come to rely on their streaming apps and YouTube,” Wolk said. “Both services allow guests to cast from their own Netflix, Hulu and Amazon accounts, which is a big plus as viewers have gotten used to being able to take programming with them.”

Wolk said that these types of services will not only make it easier for users to get their content, but will also prevent hotel workers from having to assist users in setting up Roku or Chromecast devices.

“This will be a lot better than watching on phones and laptops which is what I'm guessing many people were doing before this,” Wolk said. “Or they were bringing Rokus and Chromecasts from home and driving hotel staff crazy as they tried to set them up themselves.”

Test driving services

As AT&T and Dish hope to attract more customers to their video service plans, deepening their already well-entrenched presence in the hospitality segment could be another way to enhance video revenues.

AT&T reported in its first-quarter earnings release that video revenues were $9 billion, down year-over-year from $9.6 billion. The service provider noted that gains in its DirecTV Now service helped offset linear TV subscriber declines.

Dish, meanwhile, reported it lost 143,000 satellite subscribers in the first quarter. The loss follows a 2016 total-year loss of 1.04 million customers. Dish also saw revenue decline in the first quarter to $3.69 billion.

By offering these streaming services in hotel rooms, AT&T can also heighten the profile of its own streaming services that it is hoping will boost revenues.

“They can help introduce consumers to their respective services (DirecTV Now and Sling) so they can take them for a test drive,” Wolk said. “It also lets them create good will by providing a useful service for hotel guests.”