In this edition of his regular report, David Esseryk, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer (e-commerce, customer experience, loyalty, brand marketing and IT) at SEH United Hoteliers, explains the difference between streaming content and direct integration, and how these two technologies fit into the hotel entertainment scenario.

Indeed, the two ways one can access digital media content aren’t interchangeable – they actually describe two different processes.

“Streaming” is commonly used when referring to shared media. You’ve probably heard it in conversations about watching movies and music from the internet. “Streaming” describes the act of playing media on one device when the media is saved on another. The media could be saved in “the cloud”, on a computer, media server or network-attached storage device. A network media player or media streamer (including Smart TVs) can access that file and play it.
Likewise, the media you want to play could come from an online website. Video sites, such as Netflix and Vudu, and music sites like Pandora or Rhapsody, are examples of websites that stream movies and music to one’s computer and/ or network media player or media streamer. When you click to play a video on YouTube or a TV show on ABC, NBC, CBS or Hulu, you are streaming the media from that website to your computer, network media player, or media streamer, like water flowing from a tap.
It is essential to have a fast internet connection to stream high definition videos from the internet without interruption. Many video websites will determine the quality of the video streamed to your device based on their estimation of your internet speed. Typically, it is best to have an internet connection of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) for standard resolution video. HD video may require over 3 Mbps (4K streaming may require as much as 25mbps) so the video doesn’t have to pause as it buffers.

The other way to play media on a network media player or computer is to get the content already downloaded to a media server. When media is downloaded from a website, the file is saved to the hotel IPTV server.
TV shows and movies that are downloaded are rented and are available without time limit. That is, you “own” the movie or music file. Direct content integration is not related to Wi-Fi quality or to geographical rights. Nevertheless, direct content integration is limited to the content renewal of the IPTV provider.
All network media players can stream the files to your hotel. Some network media players have built-in hard drives or can dock a portable hard drive to save files. Understanding the difference between streaming and direct content integration can help you choose the network media player partner or the IPTV provider that is right for you.