Marriott Testing Netflix, Hulu In-Room Streaming to HDTVs at 8 Hotels

Hotel chain Marriott International is kicking the tires on an in-room entertainment service that lets guests stream Netflix, Hulu and Pandora on high-definition TVs — a potentially new revenue stream for the hospitality provider.

So far, the trial is limited to eight locations, which is just a drop in the bucket given that Marriott operates 3,900 properties in 72 countries. It’s not clear at this point if the test will move forward with a broader launch. And, of course, hotel visitors can typically access services like Netflix using their own devices via in-room Internet service.

But the idea is that Marriott could possibly capture incremental dollars from guests by bundling in streaming-content services for a premium.

“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,” Marriott spokesman John Wolf said in an interview with Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

Netflix confirmed it’s working with Marriott on the test. “We’re always trying to find ways to make viewing more convenient for our members,” a spokesman said.

Separately, Marriott runs its own inhouse studio, which is acquiring and producing content to be distributed across multiple platforms, including its own in-room TVs, in a bid to woo younger travelers. Marriott, named MipTV’s brand of the year for 2015, has content deals with YouTube, Vine and Snapchat stars and wrapped production on a short action film, “Two Bellmen.”

Meanwhile, the hotel chain has come under fire from critics over its plan to ban personal Wi-Fi hotspots in certain areas of its properties such as meeting rooms, a measure it says would protect visitors’ security and privacy. However, Marriott has said that it will allow guests to use them in hotel rooms.

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