Cut the Cable Cord at Your Vacation Rental

Mike Stachowiak —  May 20, 2013

apple tvLet’s face it – cable television is expensive! Satellite tv is no exception. Even basic cable can run $60+ per month with sports and movie packages well over $150. With the proliferation of internet tv, there’s plenty of options for you to meet guest expectations and maybe even delight them in the process.

If you are considering cutting the cord in favor of streaming internet tv, you’ll want to first consider the speed of your internet connection. If you can only get low speed dial-up or DSL at your vacation rental property, don’t even consider switching. Your guests will be unhappy with the quality and this could reflect poorly on their overall experience.

One expert recommends a connection of at least 2 Mb/s (megabits per second) – reasonable for many rural locations and easy for city dwellings. The higher the connection speed, the faster videos load and buffer, meaning the guest doesn’t have to wait to watch their favorite show or movie.

Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and iTunes are the most popular services to stream video content. While YouTube also hosts a lot of content, it’s typically shorter in length and not categorized well enough for a guest to sit back on the couch and click to find a program.

Without connecting a computer directly to your television, you’ll need a device to help make the viewing experience more pleasurable. Popular devices include the Apple TV, Roku, and XBox 360.

Apple TV

For $99 you can get a little device that connects to your television and provides access to some of the major streaming services like Apple’s own iTunes, Netflix and Hulu Plus. Television shows and movies can be purchased or rented for 24 hours through the iTunes store. They have an extensive catalog of programs to choose from, but to build a big collection it can get quite costly (from $1.99 per television episode and from $9.99-$16.99 per movie). Netflix and Hulu Plus on the other hand are monthly subscriptions which allow you to access unlimited shows and movies for a small fee (around $8-10 each per month). For $99 plus $20 per month, you can offer your guests a great selection of content and they’ll never miss having cable.

roku

Roku

From $49 – $99 you can purchase one of the Roku devices. Similar to the Apple TV, these devices also connect to streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. Prime costs $79 per year, but also includes other perks like free 2-day shipping and other membership discounts. While I like to keep my devices all in the Apple family for ease of use, I’ve heard many great things about the Roku and think it’s a great option for owners.

XBox 360

xbox 360

If you already have an XBox 360 gaming system for your property, guests can stream Netflix and Hulu Plus videos straight from the console, provided you have an XBox LIVE Gold Membership, which runs $14.99 per month. You’ll still need to pay the additional subscription fee for Netflix and Hulu, but if you already own a 360 console this might be a good option for you. One downside to the 360 is that the remote is a little harder to handle – not as easy to just sit back and click like you would with the Apple TV or Roku remotes. Keep this in mind if you have older guests not accustomed to using gaming controllers.

I cut my cable cord at home over 2 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I’ve never had an issue finding my favorite television program or movie online and it’s so much easier to navigate. I love getting to watch shows when I want to watch them – and not just when they’re airing on cable. The one downside is that it’s harder to access live news stations, but I’m not sure how many guests want to watch the local news when they’re on vacation.

If your vacation rental has high speed internet and you’re ready to cut the cord, give one of these options a try. If done right, your guests will be delighted and you’ll save cash in the process.

Mike Stachowiak

Mike Stachowiak

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Co-founder at MyVR.com. Mike Stachowiak is an entrepreneur, technologist, and active member of the start-up community in Silicon Valley. He has a vacation home in North Lake Tahoe and has been active in the vacation rental industry since 2009. You can find him on Twitter and Google+.
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3 responses to Cut the Cable Cord at Your Vacation Rental

  1. An Internet TV is really a nice idea. This seems to be the right replacement to our monthly cable bill, which is not only expensive but their channels air same shows over and over again.

  2. How do you restrict renters from ordering shows that cost? Do you work this into your agreement, so you can take this out of a security deposit, or is there a way to commonly restrict this type of option via the various Internet TV service offerings?

  3. Jonathan Murray
    Jonathan Murray July 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Pete – both of those are viable approaches. I personally use the first – and I actually often don’t even deduct the cost.