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Hotel TV – Comparing The Differences between Satellite TV and Cable

When it comes to providing the best TV experience for your hotel guests you have 3 options.

  • Satellite TV
  • Cable TV
  • Over the Air Antenna

Today with cable and Satellite TV providers offering a large variety of channels for residential customers, giving your hotel guests just the few local stations available on an over the air antenna is not a viable option, so we will discuss the difference between the guest (and hotel) experience of cable vs satellite TV.


What Are The Differences Between Satellite & Cable

Aside from the technology platform used to deliver the television signal to the hotel property, there are many differences between cable and Satellite TV programming providers.

Let’s look at the four main areas of concern:

  • Picture Quality
  • Channel availability in SD and HD
  • Compatibility with other hotel & guest technology
  • Being ready for the future technology changes
  • Cost vs Value


High Definition TV Picture Quality

For High Definition TV, the choice is 720P vs 1080P.

Almost all TVs that your hotel guests are purchasing for use in their homes today are 1080P capable. A new high definition standard, 4K Ultra HD, has been released, but is not in general use in the hospitality industry yet.

720p = 1,280 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 720 pixels down the screen vertically. This arrangement yields 720 horizontal lines on the screen.

1080p = 1,920 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 1,080 pixels down the screen vertically. This arrangement yields 1,080 horizontal lines on the screen.

720P broadcast is about 1 million pixels and 1080P is about 2 million pixels.

The 1080P broadcast has the potential to show a lot more detail. It is a very noticeable difference on screens larger than 27″.

Cable TV picture quality is limited by its technology to just 720P.

Satellite television, like that from DIRECTV, high definition is broadcast in up to Blu-Ray quality or 1080P.


TV for Hotels Channel Availability

In their homes, Cable and Satellite TV subscribers both have a tremendous amount of channels available to them. The best subscription TV programming packages have 285+ channels with 190+ in HD.

So how about cable and satellite television packages available for Hotels?

Hotel television programming choices are:
Cable : 60-80 channels total with up to 60 (depending on # of HD local channels) in HD
Satellite: 160+ channels with 75 in HD + # of Locals available in HD

Cable TV packages available for the Hospitality industry from Comcast, Cox and Time Warner are very limited. Comcast’s top package has just 80 channels total including locals and they are the industry leader for cable.

By comparison, the best lodging and institutions package from satellite provider DIRECTV has 160+ channels with more than 75 in HD.


TV for Hotels PMS & IT Compatibility

Today your hotel televisions system is expected to do more than just show television programming. PMS integration to ease check out & billing, Guest Welcome Screens and Concierge services, Local Events and Services screens, ability to use personal devices like a PC, tablet or gaming device, are all expected services on today’s hotel TV.

The question you have to ask is how well will the technology in the hotel television system you are considering integrate with your IT infrastructure. Can legacy technology like cable integrate with your evolving IT systems?


Future Proofing your Hotel Television System

This may be the most important factor in limiting your capital expenditures.

Hotel TV System Technology Advances

In just a few short years TV for Hotels went from analog Standard Definition broadcasts that you could display on any TV to digital High Definition broadcasts in 720P that required a mpeg-2  flat screen television and then later an mpeg-4 HD television to digital rights management systems and Pro:Idiom or Veramatrix encrypted broadcasts in 1080P that require sophisticated head end systems to deliver.

The pace of technological advances is not slowing down and legacy providers like cable television have struggled to keep up with the changes. Cable’s platform limits their ability to provide the best possible viewing experience today and as technology advances they will fall even further behind.

Satellite TV providers like DIRECTV are constantly working to bring you the newest hotel television system  technology like the Com1000 HD Headend and most recently the revolutionary DIRECTV Residential Experience for Hotels.

DIRECTV has also brought the TV experience guests have at home today into the hotel room with the same remote control, the same interactive channel guide and even the digital video recorder (a very popular feature for luxury, business traveler focused and extended stay properties).

DIRECTV is working with television manufacturers to provide televisions with pro:idiom encryption built in and DIRECTV receivers built in so you don’t have to have bulky cable boxes on top of your new high definition flat screen TV.

All of these things help to make your hotel TV system easily adaptable for the constant changes in technology.


TV for Hotels: Cost vs Value

Cable and Satellite TV providers have programming packages for hotels that are priced similarly. Cable and Satellite TV providers have packages that offer subsidies to offset the cost of equipment or lease packages to lower upfront costs. Whether you are looking for a basic package or a top of the line package, your costs will be similar.

The difference is in the value you and your hotel guests receive.

Basic Hotel TV Programming Packages

  • On cable the basic programming packages offer little more than your local channels.
  • On Satellite TV provider DIRECTV, the basic programming package provides your local channels plus an additional 45 family oriented channels.

Mid Level Hotel TV Programming Packages

  • On cable, mid-level packages offer your local channels plus premium channels like ESPN and HBO.
  • On Satellite TV, mid-level programming packages provide 100+ channels including ESPN, ESPNews, ESPN2 and ESPNU + the availability of premium movie channels.

Top Level Hotel TV Programming Packages

  • On cable, top level packages offer 60-80 channels with up to 60 in HD depending on the market.
  • On Satellite TV provider DIRECTV, top level packages include 160+ channels with 75+ in HD. Channels including The Movie Channel, 8 Encore channels, and the most comprehensive sports programming: CBS Sports, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, NBC Sports Network, NFL Network, NHL Network, Univision Deportes,  and more!

Which TV for Hotels Provider is Best for You

Determining which TV for Hotels provider will give you the best TV experience for your hotel guests, the best hotel TV picture quality, the best programming packages, the best Hotel TV technology and the best value is easy.

The next step is to find out which package will best fit your budget and the needs of your hotel guests.

For More Information!

When its time to compare the Hotel TV system and provider options for your hotel, call us at 800-951-1979 or 505-296-9423.

We will walk you through the differences and help you find the best package for your property, your guests and your budget.

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