Marriott testing in-room access to Netflix, Pandora, Hulu, more

Kevin Dooley (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

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Marriott International wants its in-room television entertainment services to join the present by offering Netflix, and other online services such as Hulu, and Pandora. The hotel chain is testing streaming access to these services in eight of its hotels across the U.S., according to Bloomberg.

Marriott may not be the only one, either. Bloomberg says several hotel chains are looking at bringing Netflix into their hotel rooms. It's not clear if the new service allows you to login in to your own account or if the hotels will give you generic access to these services. Marriott has yet to decide how to charge for Netflix access, but Bloomberg says it may be offered as part of a larger "premium Internet package" available to guests.

The story behind the story: Traveling customers may pass on an hotel-offered Internet package and opt for watching Netflix on their laptops instead. But if Marriott had its way that might have been much harder at some locations inside the company's hotels. In December, Marriott lead the charge at the Federal Communications Commission to allow hotel operators to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots. The company claimed it wanted to do this to protect the reliability of its own networks in meeting rooms and convention centers. Customers and critics, however, were not impressed and believed it to be an attempt to force guests and exhibitors to pay for high-priced Wi-Fi access inside Marriott Hotels. The company backed off its Wi-Fi blocking play at the FCC in mid-January.

Personal hotel entertainment

Hotels have been relatively quick to embrace new entertainment options as they become available. Thirty years ago, hotels would try to entice guests by advertising HBO or satellite TV in every room. Soon after that it was Internet access first via televisions, then Ethernet, and finally Wi-Fi. Now the hospitality industry is looking towards personalized services like Hulu and Netflix.

The key to making these services popular, however, won't be the attraction of watching Netflix on a bigger screen. Most people already walk around with handheld Netflix-capable machines in their pockets. For in-room Netflix to work, it simply can't be as pricey as that $5 can of Coke in the mini-bar.

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