For a long time, hoteliers have told us their guests want more sports entertainment in their rooms. Those sentiments ring true with research showing that sports is one of the most popular types of TV programming on the planet. Professional and college sports broadcasting is a multi-billion dollar industry, and sports fans have more live events to watch now than ever before. Yet until very recently, technology limitations and licensing issues have kept hoteliers from offering more than a fraction of that programming in their guest rooms.
That has just changed. Recognizing the extraordinary value that expanded sports programming could add for our client hotels and their guests, we spent the last two years developing the technology to accommodate the broadcast requirements and restrictions mandated by professional sports leagues and major college sports networks. We also began negotiating with those parties to distribute their programming under an alternative arrangement to the traditional “free-to-guest” model. The result - Hotel SportsNetSM - is the first service to deliver nationally branded sports programming on a “daily subscription” basis to hotel guest rooms.Ê What does this mean for hoteliers? Plenty.Ê
Hotel SportsNet offers hoteliers new opportunities to maximize revenues inside and outside their guest rooms. For example, right now Hotel SportsNet is delivering NBA League Pass in select hotels. For a daily fee, travelers can keep tabs on their favorite teams or bounce around arenas from coast to coast - up to 40 games a week for the rest of the regular NBA season. Pro basketball junkies are thrilled; and hoteliers have their first real chance to make money from sports programming after years of paying cable and satellite providers while guests watched for free.
Although it’s too early to tell, we believe Hotel SportsNet also has significant potential to drive incremental revenues beyond usage fees (room service orders, for example), and may give hotels a competitive advantage in winning lucrative group bookings from fan clubs, media crews and even the sports teams themselves.
You know what Hotel SportsNet is and why we launched it. But you might also be wondering how we’re doing it. And if the concept is so great, why haven’t we done it sooner?Ê
The truth is, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of negotiation, innovation and integration to roll out a service like Hotel SportsNet. You need established relationships with nationally branded sports programmers. You also need to ensure that each hotel can get a full slate of available games - without violating the complex geographic “blackout” restrictions that vary from market to market. We manage this through close coordination with our nationwide satellite TV partner.
In the room, guests need to know which games are available and when they start; we addressed this challenge though the LodgeNet Media Management System, our centralized resource that beams each hotel’s schedule directly to the on-site system over our satellite distribution network. They also need an easy way to pull up those games and switch seamlessly between them. We’ve covered that, too. The guest goes through a series of on-screen menus to order the subscription package he or she wants (much like ordering a pay-per-view movie), then uses an interactive channel guide to choose the game they want to see. After that they can “channel surf” to their heart’s content among all the available games in that package - nirvana for fantasy leaguers!
One other thing to consider:Ê It takes up to ten channels to support a full schedule of games on NBA League Pass alone; add other sports packages to the mix and you can see how channel management becomes a big deal in a hurry. Our on-site system maximizes the capacity of a hotel’s cable infrastructure to deliver every available game, to every guest room, every time. How that happens is our secret; but I can tell you that it works, and we have a patent pending to prove it.Ê
So there’s the scoop on Hotel SportsNet - ground-breaking technology and the country’s best sports programming. When sports-starved travelers tune in to their favorite game and pump up hoteliers’ RevPAR, they’ll never know they’re playing with rocket science. And that’s the way we like it.