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Your Next Hotel Room Amenity: Streaming Video

At the end of 2014, little-known Enseo had its integrated content service platform installed in a total of 14 hotel rooms nationwide. That number increased to only around 70 at the end of 2015.

But by the end of this year, there’s a good chance you’ll have stayed in a hotel room with Enseo, which offers access to Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, YouTube and Crackle, free of charge, to 100,000 rooms, thanks to an agreement with Marriott that covers all 13 of its hotel brands.

Part of the attraction is the services work without hotel guests having to shell out for Internet access, according to Enseo CEO Vanessa Ogle. “Hoteliers are beginning to realize that this needs to be a basic amenity, and you see companies such as Hilton and Marriott starting to offer free WiFi to their travelers,” she said. “They also used to try to sell movies, but that’s starting to stop, with them saying: ‘If you already have a service like Netflix that you pay for, you can use your own account, and we’re not going to charge you for that.’ That’s consumer, guest friendly.”

But it’s a good news, bad news story for the Richardson, Texas-based company going forward. The good news: Thanks to an expanded agreement with Netflix, the No. 1 streaming service is now in every Enseo-enabled hotel room, with easy login access (the Enseo system automatically wipes the login data when guests check out, or hotel guests can do it manually with the touch of a button).

“Our partnership with Enseo brings Netflix members a high-quality viewing experience on their hotel room TV,” Paul Perryman, director of business development at Netflix, said in a statement. “Through our expanded agreement, now more hotels in more countries will be able to provide guests access to their favorite Netflix TV shows and movies on the in-room television, making their hotel room feel more like home.”

Marriott has led the way as the first major brand that put out a standard for all of its properties, a company that not only has rooms properly connected, but also includes in-room entertainment platforms capable of providing streaming and over-the-top services. However, on the bad side, it’s looking like a tough slog for more easy access to services at other hotel chains.

“It’s certainly has been lacking in hotel rooms, because the current technology is lacking, and one of the problems we find is hotels in large part are two full technology cycles behind, without updating either their entertainment platforms or their WiFi,” Ogle said. “That absolutely needs to happen before we can offer the network connectivity needed for guests to walk in and watch what they want, whether its wired or wireless services.”

The consumer desire for access to these services in their hotel rooms is also backed up with data: Enseo gathers information from all the rooms that have the system, giving partners and the hotels a good idea of what’s being watched the most, including cable or satellite. The most viewed channels, in terms of hours watched, in the hotel rooms enabled with Enseo during the first half of 2016 were: Netflix first, NBC second.

Ogle said the company is currently in discussion with several other OTT and streaming services to come on board with the platform.