On Command Signs Up 300K Marriott Rooms

On Command Corp. has closed a deal that will put its interactive-TV services in roughly 300,000 Marriott International Inc. managed and franchised hotel rooms this year.

The deal, first announced last year, gives On Command access to 165,000 Marriott-owned hotel rooms in the United States and Canada. The agreement extends to about 135,000 rooms in Marriott franchised hotels.

Marriott customers will receive such features as newly released feature films, specialized video-on-demand, a wider array of cable and broadcast programming, Sony PlayStation games, interactive music and high-speed Internet access. All of these services will have sophisticated features that put the guest in control of his or her interactive entertainment experience.

OnCommand initially plans to install a specially modified version of its OCX platform in 100,000 Marriott International rooms this year.

"This agreement with Marriott serves as a model for all of On Command's partnerships with its hotel customers. Now, Marriott hotels will participate in development and deployment of the most advanced technology and comprehensive menu of services available to their hotel guests, as well as reaping the anticipated financial gains," On Command chairman and CEO Jerome Kern said in a prepared statement. "On Command intends to provide the most advanced services and highest-quality guest experience to our hotel partners."

LodgeNet Corp., an On Command rival, inked a similar deal last year with Hilton Corp. That deal came after On Command's contract with Hilton expired in mid-2000.

In a report, Janco Partners analyst Matthew Riegner wrote that the Marriott deal was critical for On Command, which already serves about 200,000 Marriott rooms. On Command's existing Marriott contract represents about 25 percent of its total revenue.

Riegner also said in the report that LodgeNet was in talks with Marriott for those rooms and wanted to sign the hotelier on as a partner in its InnMedia partnership, a 50-50 joint venture with Hilton that offers high-speed Internet access and other digital services to hotel rooms.

On Command stock was up $1.38 per share-or 26 percent-on March 27, closing at $6.63 per share. LodgeNet stock was up by 13 cents each, to $14.25.