Hotel Video on Demand (VOD) Technology

As the name suggests, it’s the technology that allows the guests in hotel rooms to watch videos on demand which may include movies, music or more variety of videos such as documentaries, travel videos etc. In this article we shall take a look at the VOD technology that runs on Internet Protocols or IP in short. This is the latest, efficient and convenient technology as of today.

How to build Hotel VOD system?

A basic Hotel VOD system running on IP protocol comprises of five main technology components –

  1. Encoder
  2. Streamer or streaming server
  3. Decoder or Set top box
  4. Subscriber & Content management system/OSS
  5. Encryption & DRM

Let’s take a look at functions of each of these components –

Encoder The encoder essentially convert the source content into appropriate codec such as MPEG2 or H.264 and packages it in appropriate streamable format like MPEG2 TS to make it work effectively as a “On demand” content. The most popular video codec used today in IP based VOD systems are – MPEG2, H.264 and WMV.

Streamer or streaming server – It stores and streams the content to the decoder box which located at user end, in this case a guest room. The critical part of streaming server feature is the amount of variety content it can stream at any given point of time and the number of concurrent streams it can handle concurrently. There are certain limitations imposed by hardware, hard disk access speed, network port speed and inherent limitations built in a streaming software. One more critical factor is the ability to mimic the trickplay which is same as fast forward, rewind and pause function of a DVD player.

Decoder or Set Top box – This is a small receiver unit very similar to a satellite receiver box in it’s physical appearance. The Set top box input is a RJ45 LAN port, which allows it to communicate with the IP/LAN network within the Hotel. The important features of this box is to present the list of content to the user/guest along with the related information of the content. User can navigate and watch the content using the STB interface with the help of a remote control. E.g. a movie is displayed with it’s synopsis, duration, movie cast, a preview option and the price to watch it. It allows users to consume content at convenience and comfort.

Subscriber & Content management system/OSS – This piece of software allows you to enter user details, STB details, manage content and keeps track of the content watched on demand by various guests. Most Hotels has a Property Management System(PMS) that takes care of billing of all hotel’s facilities. Most popular PMS systems comes with API that can be used to integrate the VOD system records with main billing.

Encryption & DRM – encryption is a must for content to protect the IP rights as well as making sure that a user cannot access the content without paying for it. The Digital Rights Management(DRM) allows the VOD operator or Hotel to manage the rights on the content. A good example of DRM is if a guest pays for a movie, the operator may decide to apply rights to watch for 24 hours from the time of purchase. Or in some type of content the operator offers to view it for all the time during stay.

Commercial models

Many VOD systems available are built to offer pay per view model. The guest can browse through the list of movies and select the movie he likes to watch. The system then asks to enter a confirmation code that appears on TV screen. this steps ensures that the user did not start the movie accidentally and charged for it in his/her bill.  

Current Challenges & Future of Hotel VOD

The VOD opens unlimited possibilities to offer variety of content to guests. The demand will grow as hotels strive to make difference in their service and pamper their gusts as best as they can.

The major limitations faced by Hotel VOD technology is it’s higher cost and limited variety of content. Most common content offered on VOD are blockbuster movies. There are wide possibilities that are still untapped in this space.

NexusWerkz, a Singapore based Hotel VOD solution provider is offering the business model that aims to address both of these challenges.

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Source by Yogesh Raut