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Streaming Content for guests?

Replies: 20 - Pages: 1 - Last Reply: Jun 11, 2020 9:55 AM by: Jacques L
Jacques L
Registered: 6/2/14
Streaming Content for guests?

I have 4 cabins on a lake that I rent.

I just dumped DirecTV, which was $200/mo. and am providing Disney+ and Hulu+Live TV instead. With these I'm supposed to be able to have 4 streams of each for the monthly price. And, I was able to reduce all 4 places to 1 remote, so hopefully no more calls about TV support. All the TVs have Roku, and their newer remote can control the TV volume now. I did already have 1 email asking for the login to Hulu, since it got logged out somehow. I don't love that problem.

What's everyone else doing to replace Cable or Satellite TV? How is it working?

-JJ

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

@Jacques: I literally just did the same thing, and almost identical to what you said. I had DirecTV, it was also almost 200/month and I also went to Disley+, Hulu and others. In my case, the big thing was having strong enough internet. It's gotta be low latency and a pretty decent pipe with no caps. I'm on a microwave P2P system in the mountains but it works really well so I went for it. It's only been a couple weeks but it was well worth it. I've got 8 TVs in the place (big lodge) and Roku's on each. I use YouTube TV for the live/broadcast channel since I use that at home and love it. Then Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, PBS, ESPN+ and Boomerang. That last one Boomerang is great for kids. Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ are a package for 15/month. As you said, Roku's are great and can do volume all from one remote. The only issue is if guests log out of my accounts on the Roku, but I put up signage to ask them not to do that. The housekeeper knows how to log back in if it happens. Happy to finally switch over and hope I can do other properties soon!

Chris L
Registered: 5/17/17
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

I've been hesitant to switch away from standard cable because our market sees a high number of retirees and there's a technological barrier to using streaming apps. Not to mention that they all want to watch their Fox News. :P I have to stay on top of the cable company because the bill will go up every year if I don't call them and negotiate a new discounted bundle, but if I do that, fortunately, the bill is nowhere near $200 even for cable+Internet.

Rich S
Registered: 12/28/18
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Chris L said:

I've been hesitant to switch away from standard cable because our market sees a high number of retirees and there's a technological barrier to using streaming apps. Not to mention that they all want to watch their Fox News. :P I have to stay on top of the cable company because the bill will go up every year if I don't call them and negotiate a new discounted bundle, but if I do that, fortunately, the bill is nowhere near $200 even for cable+Internet.

Chris - I'll add a comment, because I have similar thoughts. I recently started adding some smaller tv's to my personal residence in addition to 3 large tv's all driven by a cable service and Tivo boxes. The smaller tv's are corner mounted 32" close to a computer workstation in an office and in a bathroom.

I didn't want big physical dvr equipment like a tivo player, but when I called our local Spectrum the support guy (who was pretty awesome) said I ought to try their roku app. So far I'm using it for about a week and it seems workable.

Now to do this in a vacation rental there would have to be clear instructions about how to start the app, and then how to find channels. I'm sure some people would find that daunting, but at the same time saving $100's of dollars monthly might be worth it as an experiment. I imagine app quality might vary based on provider, and of course the Spectrum app is itself dependent on having a cable subscription too. But it may be that in future months there will be more and more comfort on the part of users to 'get to their cable' through an app (like on Roku) and if it's not easy enough today it will surely keep getting updated.

I'm personally continuing to do this experiment at home so I can get more comfort with the approach before I roll it out at vacation rentals.

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Chris L said:

they all want to watch their Fox News

That's why I use YouTube TV as the main "live TV" app and point that out on the signage in the house. It has nearly 100 channels including cable news channels like CNN and Fox News as well as most all sports and premiums (AMC). I used Sling before but Youtube TV beats the crap out of it. Better UI too.

Sarah H
Registered: 7/4/19
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

I have to have Hughes net (as far as I know) at a few properties that I am at right now. It looks like the plans go up to 50GB, but for each TV using Netflix, you would use 1-3GB/Hour. I typically have folks 20 days in the summer, so that would not be as good. But, I surely hate ATT. :)

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

I feel your pain. We have some HughesNet properties as well. The latest "gen 5" HughesNet is actually pretty solid, or at least much better than in the old days where satellite was terrible. It still works even after you hit yours caps (you get like 1-3mbps) and the latency is decent. I also haven't switched over to streaming on those properties. I doubt the HughesNet system would work well with it. I'm hoping that 5G will fix the bandwidth problem in rural areas in the next 3-4 years. It certainly has the potential to.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Jacques L said:

I have 4 cabins on a lake that I rent.

I just dumped DirecTV, which was $200/mo. and am providing Disney+ and Hulu+Live TV instead. With these I'm supposed to be able to have 4 streams of each for the monthly price. And, I was able to reduce all 4 places to 1 remote, so hopefully no more calls about TV support. All the TVs have Roku, and their newer remote can control the TV volume now. I did already have 1 email asking for the login to Hulu, since it got logged out somehow. I don't love that problem.

What's everyone else doing to replace Cable or Satellite TV? How is it working?

-JJ


let us know how it goes. In my location streaming is not possible altogether (satellite internet) and I would not do it anyhow. In my market people expect cable/satellite channels, sports etc. i looked at Hulu live and it did not seem any cheaper than Dish anyway maybe by a few bucks. I have form 4 to 8 TVs per property. I have been in IT for over 23 years but do not ask me to figure out Rokus and fire sticks etc on my vacation. I just want to turn TV on and see my familiar channels. And I know many of my renters feel the same way. I have Roku in my summer home, and I do not use ANY of the channels that come with it. Instead it signs into my Spectrum cable programming and that is what I use.

Chris L
Registered: 5/17/17
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

I suspect my market is similar to @BlueMtnCabins'. Our market is pretty much 40% retirees, 40% families, and 20% other (some younger couples or younger/middle-aged groups of friends). So most of our guests could probably figure it out, but a lot of older people just don't have the capacity to adapt to change as quickly and figure out things like streaming apps on TVs, even ones that fairly decently mimic traditional cable (like YouTube TV and AT&T TV NOW). My grandfather is always complaining to me about his high cable bill but I just can't recommend streaming to him because he and my grandmother could barely figure out how to handle it when they switched from the built-in TV tuner to having to use a cable box, and so navigating menus and apps on a smart TV (even one with a good interface like Apple TV) would be next to impossible. And a lot of our guests are the same age as my grandparents, ha.

And data caps are a consideration even on cable. I'd have to upgrade the plans at my properties to a higher tier to support unlimited bandwidth. Even as it is, with guests signing in to their Netflix accounts on our smart TVs, we use about 200-300GB of data in heavy months (the cap is 350GB). That 4K Netflix streaming really eats through bandwidth (on my gigabit fiber at home, I've hit over 1TB of data per month sometimes--I *may* spend a little too much of my life bingeing Netflix, LOL).

For reference, Netflix 4K uses (ballpark) 5-10GB per hour, and streaming TV services like YouTube TV and AT&T TV NOW use maybe 2-3GB per hour. So 6 hours of TV per day (on one TV set) uses 12-18 GB per day and (let's round it to 15GB) in a month with 25 occupied nights, that alone is 375GB--over my 350GB cap, so I'd have to pay ~$20 more for a higher Internet tier, which removes a chunk of the savings switching away from traditional cable. And that doesn't even include Netflix usage or streaming on multiple TVs in the property. (That's a worst-case scenario, though; of course, not every guest will watch that much TV, especially on a vacation in an area with attractions to visit, but you can see it doesn't really take a ton of usage for bandwidth limits to become exhausted, especially when parents put Nickelodeon on for hours on end to entertain their kids in one room while they watch a Netflix movie in the other room.)

As always, though, this question is highly dependent on market/demographics/guest expectations/local Internet services/technology available. One additional thing to be aware of is that online streaming platforms don't always have all of the local affiliates. In my area, it seems that our local CBS affiliate gets into a pricing spat with AT&T TV NOW (my mom has it) and drops off for a month at a time until they come to terms. I think that's becoming less of an issue as time goes on, but it's still something to be aware of.

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Chris L said:

Even as it is, with guests signing in to their Netflix accounts on our smart TVs, we use about 200-300GB of data in heavy months (the cap is 350GB). That 4K Netflix streaming really eats through bandwidth

Netflix has an account setting where you can force profiles to use less data. Looks like this:

That lowest 0.7 GB/hour setting is awesome and really conserves a ton of bandwidth. It also allows 4 TVs to stream at the same time on a mediocre connection with no buffering.

It can only be changed on the account after logging into Netflix in a browser, not in a Roku or their various apps, so the guest cannot change it.

Now, if you're an videophile, you might dislike the quality of it. It's somewhat noticeable that the black colors aren't as rich on the screen and you get slight pixelation when there's heavy action. But this is for guests, not me, so I'm fine with it.

Disney+ has the same setting to force the stream to much lower bandwidth, however that one can be changed on the app itself so if guests find it, they might jack the quality back up.

Chris L
Registered: 5/17/17
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Yes, that's true, but these are guests logging into their own Netflix accounts on my Smart TVs (and sometimes leaving them logged in when they leave, which I'm sure the following guests appreciate, LOL...I probably should train my housekeepers how to log out, but no one has complained yet).

Short of replacing all my 4K TVs with 720P ones, or maybe putting Mikrotik routers in all my properties and coding the QOS settings to limit bandwidth to streaming services, it's kinda hard to force the bandwidth to scale down in that case. :)

That said, we haven't yet had any month where we've gone _over_, as not every guest uses Netflix and watches it multiple hours every day. My point is mainly that video uses more data than most people expect, and so replacing traditional cable with streaming live TV services does add a consideration for people on limited bandwidth Internet plans.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Paul W said:

Netflix has an account setting where you can force profiles to use less data. Looks like this:

That lowest 0.7 GB/hour setting is awesome and really conserves a ton of bandwidth. It also allows 4 TVs to stream at the same time on a mediocre connection with no buffering.

It can only be changed on the account after logging into Netflix in a browser, not in a Roku or their various apps, so the guest cannot change it.

Now, if you're an videophile, you might dislike the quality of it. It's somewhat noticeable that the black colors aren't as rich on the screen and you get slight pixelation when there's heavy action. But this is for guests, not me, so I'm fine with it.

Disney+ has the same setting to force the stream to much lower bandwidth, however that one can be changed on the app itself so if guests find it, they might jack the quality back up.


You lost me there. That would be on YOUR netflix account, would it not?. If guests signs on with THEIR netflix account, how would that limit their usage?

Anyway, maybe I am behind times but I cannot see how Netflix replaces normal TV. Also You Tube - all I see is people putting various tutorials or "how do I replace a light switch" or funny videos of cats and dogs or old movies or previously aired TV episodes on you tube. Which is fine and dandy if that is what you want to watch after wading through bunch of menus. But how does that replace normal TV?

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

BlueMtnCabins said:

You lost me there. That would be on YOUR netflix account, would it not?. If guests signs on with THEIR netflix account, how would that limit their usage?

Right, it's your account, not theirs. The point is to set up the TVs that way and then they turn them on and have no need to use their own accounts - it's all set up and paid for. I have signage asking them not to sign out or use their own accounts. I figured a bunch of people would but very few actually have because all the apps work as soon as they turn them on. Between bookings, the housekeepers check the TVs, and apps on each, to make sure they are signed on correctly. It hasn't been a problem for us at all.

If it becomes an issue in the future, it's easily solved with a network controller. For that, I'd recommend the Ubiquiti UDM-Pro or some of their other hardware.

BlueMtnCabins said:

Anyway, maybe I am behind times but I cannot see how Netflix replaces normal TV. Also You Tube - all I see is people putting various tutorials or "how do I replace a light switch" or funny videos of cats and dogs or old movies or previously aired TV episodes on you tube. Which is fine and dandy if that is what you want to watch after wading through bunch of menus. But how does that replace normal TV?

YouTube TV is a totally different product/service than regular YouTube. Take a look here:

https://tv.youtube.com/welcome/

Keyword there is "TV" next to YouTube. There's YouTube and then YouTube TV - two completely different things.

It's a drop-in replacement for regular TV and far better in most respects. You get all your local broadcast channels (local Fox, ABC, etc), all the normal sports channels (ESPN, FoxSports, etc) and dozens of premium cable channels (TNT, AMC, etc). All the cable news channels as well (MSNBC, Fox News, CNN). They have add-ons for HBO and all the rest, though you could just pay for those apps directly.

It also has a cloud-based DVR which means unlimited storage and a lot better controls for what tapes, which devices can play it back (paurse/resume on others). It doesn't actually record off of your internet, so the DVR doesn't use any bandwidth. It basically uses referential markers to what shows you want, where you played last and so on. Then it streams everything on demand.

There are a bunch of others out there like Sling, DirectTV Now, Hulu Live and so on, but I've found YouTube TV to be the best. Whether you do it for a vacation rental or not, I would highly recommend switching to it for your personal use over cable.

Chris L
Registered: 5/17/17
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

AFAIK, YouTube TV has the best interface. At least back when I was looking into things (year-and-a-half-ish ago), DirecTV Now (now rebranded AT&T TV NOW) had a better channel selection (and slightly better video quality) for a similar price. Although now AT&T TV NOW has increased pricing and reduced channels, so I'm not sure it's still the best choice (mom is grandfathered in).

For a VR, though, given the cost/interface/features, I think YouTube TV would be the best option as a cable replacement. Although you might end up field inquiries from people confused about YouTube vs. YouTube TV. :P

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Chris L said:

Although you might end up field inquiries from people confused about YouTube vs. YouTube TV. :P

That was my biggest concern! I wish Google had named it something different.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Paul W said:

Right, it's your account, not theirs. The point is to set up the TVs that way and then they turn them on and have no need to use their own accounts - it's all set up and paid for. I have signage asking them not to sign out or use their own accounts. I figured a bunch of people would but very few actually have because all the apps work as soon as they turn them on. Between bookings, the housekeepers check the TVs, and apps on each, to make sure they are signed on correctly. It hasn't been a problem for us at all.

If it becomes an issue in the future, it's easily solved with a network controller. For that, I'd recommend the Ubiquiti UDM-Pro or some of their other hardware.


You must have found magical housekeepers and magical guests. Ours do not read anything and housekeepers cannot even change AC filers or burned out bulbs regularly (I had to hire another person to go to my cabins and change bulbs, filters etc), let alone check if the TVs are signed in. heck they do not even check if remote batteries are good and that remotes are in the correct rooms. I guess this is good info but strictly academic to me as we have satellite internet and no way it will stream on 8 TVs.

Jacques L
Registered: 6/2/14
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

BlueMtnCabins said:


let us know how it goes. In my location streaming is not possible altogether (satellite internet) and I would not do it anyhow. In my market people expect cable/satellite channels, sports etc. i looked at Hulu live and it did not seem any cheaper than Dish anyway maybe by a few bucks. I have form 4 to 8 TVs per property. I have been in IT for over 23 years but do not ask me to figure out Rokus and fire sticks etc on my vacation. I just want to turn TV on and see my familiar channels. And I know many of my renters feel the same way. I have Roku in my summer home, and I do not use ANY of the channels that come with it. Instead it signs into my Spectrum cable programming and that is what I use.

So far so good. I just looked at my calendar, and we are onto our 11th customer since the switch, and I've only had email about it. Hulu got logged out, so I just emailed them the password (hopefully they don't bring it home).

Someone mentioned Sports, and it was in the back of my mind that at least right now, there are no sports. Some of the streaming services do offer NESN, which has our local sports teams.

1 thing I am concerned about is if the Roku starts adding channels on its own, it will confuse people. I really want it to have just the 2 choices. Once you're in Hulu w/ the live TV it really does look just like cable.

I'm probably saving a lot more than you, because I have 4 cottages on the same property, and each has just 1 TV. DirecTV was charging me for a couple different residences, while with the streaming services, I can just pay the same as 1 house.

-JJ

Paul W
Registered: 6/9/09
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

BlueMtnCabins said:

You must have found magical housekeepers and magical guests. Ours do not read anything and housekeepers cannot even...

I feel your pain, believe me. It took a long time and we've fired more than a few. One of the things we do is pay a monthly maintenance retainer to all of our housekeepers with the expectation that they will:

- Come in before the guest arrives and look for stink bugs to vacuum or things to freshen up, the morning of or day before arrival, even though cleaning was finished days earlier

- Stock consumables (paper products, batteries, light bulbs) and go to town when needed even if it has nothing to do with cleaning

- Be willing to do flat-rate service calls on weekends or holidays. They're paid for the service call separately, but they agree to be available and not ignore us when we call.

- Be willing to answer the phone during off hours if we need help or guest needs information (TV wasn't set to the right input, hot tub light won't turn off, whatever) and they can't get our main line. They are basically listed as a back-up contact number to call

They get 150/month per property flat regardless of cleaning for doing the above. The better cleaners value this position. They have 3 or 4 properties on the same street so they can group the above stuff together - easy money. Most of them are married and both husband and wife and maybe a grown child or two helps as part of the "team" so one person isn't doing it all all the time.

It helps to have multiple teams in an area. Tomorrow they could all quit of course. 🤷‍♂️ There is no perfect final solution.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Paul W said:

[ One of the things we do is pay a monthly maintenance retainer to all of our housekeepers with the expectation that they will:
....

Glad it works for you.
I found that even paying HK extra will not solve this - They will still not do it but just tell me that they did. That is why I ended up hiring a guy who is not affiliated with housekeepers who also does small handyman type of jobs for me. He goes either regularly to do bulbs/filters/etc or on request to address minor guest complaints etc. It runs me more than you pay per property per month but he also sprays for bugs monthly.

Jacques L
Registered: 6/2/14
Re: Streaming Content for guests?

Paul W said:

Chris L said:

Although you might end up field inquiries from people confused about YouTube vs. YouTube TV. :P

That was my biggest concern! I wish Google had named it something different.

Yes, I really didn't like providing "Hulu + Live TV" as a replacement, because people associate Hulu with a cheap, possibly failing version of Netflix. Would totally have picked a streaming service that was called "Streaming Cable TV" or something that made it seem like it had all the stuff that cable people like.

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