There has been much fanfare surrounding the welfare of/lack of appreciation from returning travellers in enforced luxury hotel quarantine. What is undeniable, however, is what this government-mandated isolation can teach us about the changing entertainment preferences of guests. There has never before been an opportunity like this to compare viewing habits. In a 21-day period, an average taken over 300 full-service rooms from hotels across Brisbane and Sydney recorded a whopping 91,878 hours total viewing time – an 80% increase from the same period in February. Out of those 28,295 hours, were taken up by SONIFI’s STAYCAST streaming powered by Google Chromecast, delivered exclusively throughout APAC by HoneyBadger Technologies. On average the TV’s were switched on for 14.5 hours per day. STAYCAST which allows guests to stream over 2000 apps straight to their hotel room TV, just like at home, represents the single largest use of in-room entertainment, proving what most hoteliers were already aware of – that guests want control of what they watch. This is even more apparent when all other forms of control are taken away. Quarantined guests relied on streaming services to help them get through their long two-weeks. Binge-watching Netflix, Stan and Prime Video allowed them to keep up to date with their favourite shows and movies, Disney+ was a lifesaver for families with young children, and YouTube was essential for keeping physically active with the help of workout tutorials. Looking at the top APP’s used over the 21 days, Netflix with 32,000 sessions is the clear favourite and in second place YouTube with 14,500 sessions. These totals are on par with the global usage averages and current market share.

The dominance of in-room streaming services is not just a consequence of enforced quarantine but represents a larger shift in viewing behaviour that pre-dates COVID-19. Streaming platforms such as Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Kayo Sport have been increasing in popularity over the past few years and this growth is set to continue at a rapid pace. In Australia Netflix alone has over 11 million subscribers.

Netflix subscribers make up over 70% of the total subscriber market in Australia. With social distancing putting an indefinite pause on many live television events such as sport, the shift to streaming is likely to accelerate rapidly. While COVID-19 has put the hotel industry under severe pressure with no clear end in sight, what is clearer than ever is that guests want control over their in-room entertainment, quarantine or no quarantine. This is achievable through strong relationships with experienced vendors that share the same beliefs of delivering great guest experiences. This mandated Longest Binge exercise highlighted the need for freedom of choice and enhanced user-controlled experiences.