What Is the Best TV Service for Airbnb Properties?

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Updated: December 18, 2020

Author: Benjamin Harty

Hi, I'm Benjamin, Digital Media Strategist for Skyline STR. I have been involved in content creation for over a decade and love helping people develop strategies to grow their business. My wife and I are AirBnB photographers that are experienced in rental arbitrage and hosting on the platform.

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SkylineSTR.com is a participant in several affiliate programs and may be compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies at no additional cost to you.

With subscribers dropping cable and moving to streaming services and devices, Airbnb owners should ensure that they don’t fall behind in guest entertainment. With the wide variety of streaming services, you might wonder which service would best suit your Airbnb rental.

The best TV services for Airbnb properties are Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Also, high-end devices like Apple 4K TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, and Google Chromecast provide quality sound and spectacular visuals. You should consider your budget and your user demographic for the best fit.

If you are in the market to upgrade from cable and wish to provide great entertainment for your Airbnb guests, we have compiled a list of the best options available to suit each Airbnb owner’s unique needs. 

Is Cable Still a Viable Option?

Cable TV is in a state of decline that began in 2013 and continues to this day.

The shrinking TV viewership, availability of streaming services and the general viewing trends of consumers have shifted cable into the back seat. Cable is far more expensive than streaming services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix that provide up to date variety at a fraction of cable costs. 

Other reasons why cable is no longer a viable alternative (especially for the younger generation) is:

  • Subscribers refuse to pay for a colossal number of channels that they are not likely ever to watch.
  • Companies like HBO and ESPN are creating their own content and providing exclusive viewing that attracts a growing number of subscribers. Cable can only offer channels that offer their content and can be accessed more cheaply through streaming services.
  • Consumers have opted to transition between devices. Studies show, between 2014 and 2018, the percentage of households that relied solely on broadband more than tripled.

Features and Costs of Cable TV

Cable comes into the home entertainment market at an extremely high comparative cost to mainstream streaming services.

Remember the days when you purchased a cable subscription to watch television without commercials? Advertising was the excuse for keeping the lights on, anyways.

Now you can expect to pay $60 for entry-level packages that include a few of the top cable channels. Mid-tier options will cost around $75, and the top tier will set you back about $100 a month. 

All full of commercials.

Your basic cable typically includes access to: 

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • FOX
  • PBS
  • Telemundo
  • Univision
  • Provides local government and public-access channels

With additional benefits (with additional costs) of:

  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN
  • MTV
  • FOX News Channel

Cable TV Pros

  • Cable TV is a definite advantage if your location or age demographic includes the older guest market. Older guests might be put off by voice activation and live streaming technicalities and provide low ratings if they did not find cable.
  • Access to local channels and news is standard on cable but may not be accessed easily through some modern streaming devices.

Cable TV Cons

  • Outdated and more expensive than some of the best streaming devices on the market.
  • Lack of customization. Cable subscribers are generally stuck with channels that they don’t need or use, and their scope to explore other avenues is non-existent.
  • Generation Y users will be frustrated with cable and its annoying advertisements, and they are more accustomed to streaming devices than (what they consider) antiquated cable technology.

What Do Streaming Services Offer?

As more and more subscribers sever the cord from Cable networks, streaming services have taken the forefront with their flexibility, customization capacity, and lower monthly subscription costs.

Streaming services allow users to move between devices and access up-to-date content that suits their particular tastes, on demand.

As a response to COVID-19, some of the top names in streaming services offered the novel “co-watch movies together with friends or family.” HBO supports Scener, a remote co-watching feature, and Netflix offers Netflix Party Chrome Extension, while Amazon Prime and Plex users provide their co-watching features.

Streaming services offer more curated on-demand viewing options than cable, and in the latter part of 2020, Netflix boasts 73.08 million US subscribers alone. Hulu boasts 36.6 million, and HBO boasts 38 million, which shows just how ubiquitous streaming services have become in the USA alone.

Streaming services are a cost-effective way to provide the best media content to your paying guests who might want to spend the night indoors.

Best All-Rounder: Hulu Live TV

Hulu is becoming increasingly popular as a streaming service for Airbnb for their affordable subscriptions that offer loads of up-to-date content for your Airbnb guests to enjoy.

You may subscribe to the Hulu streaming library for only $7.99 a month or subscribe to Hulu Live TV Plan with access to more than 50 on-demand and live channels that can stream on two screens at the same time. 

Hulu offers a host of add-ons, such as enhanced cloud DVD, unlimited screens, and more, which make Hulu highly customizable. Hulu offers six user profiles, which make it handy for multiple guests, and Hulu airs the latest episodes the day after they are aired, making Hulu one of the top choices for up-to-date streaming.

Hulu offers its own Hulu content, such as the highly acclaimed ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ Hulu offers live programming in HD video qualities including:

  • 720p
  • 1080p
  • 4K Ultra HD
  • 60fps HD

Hulu Live TV Features

  • TV episodes are aired the following day on Hulu, making the subscription current and up to date than other services such as Netflix.
  • Access to award-winning original movies, series, documentaries, and content for children would suit families as Airbnb guests.
  • Access to current TV episodes and a library of selected shows and past seasons of favorite shows.
  • Allows Airbnb owners the option of allowing guests to view Hulu on two devices simultaneously.
  • Provides up to six customized user profiles that suit Airbnb rentals with multiple guests.

Hulu Live TV Pros

  • The up-to-date episode airing for guests who follow series 
  • Affordable entry-level plans with a great selection of movies, music, and television
  • Six user profiles
  • Exclusive Hulu content
  • 50 hours of Cloud DVD storage

Hulu Live TV Cons

  • Add-ons can be expensive
  • Only two screen views if users don’t upgrade
  • Users must pay to remove advertisements

Best for Customizable User Profiles for Airbnb: Netflix

‘Netflix and chill’ has become a catchphrase for a reason. The ubiquitous video platform has been a top player in streaming movies, series, and original series. With 195 million subscribers worldwide, there is no doubt that Netflix is on top of its game.

Netflix is an American based media service provider and production company that offers a subscription-based streaming service that provides users access to a vast collection of film and television programs, including their own successful in-house Netflix Original productions.

Netflix Features

  • It supports a variety of devices. Netflix allows your Airbnb guests to stream television and films from the Netflix site to their personal computers or other Netflix-supported platforms such as smartphones, tablets, and digital media players. This gives Netflix great versatility and portability and suits a number of dedicated device users.
  • It supports offline playback. Netflix has become a household name, and most guests would be familiar with the format. Netflix allows Airbnb owners to create a library of downloaded shows to watch offline, which is an excellent fix if there is an internet problem such as dips or reception problems that often happen when you are unprepared.
  • It provides up to five customized profiles. One of Netflix’s best features for your Airbnb rental is that you may create a customized profile for each guest in their native tongue. It is a novel way to make your international guests feel at home by customizing their profile to their name and native language. This attention to detail can go a long way to making your guests feel welcome and will show in your ratings.
  • A variety of Netflix plans to suit your budget. Netflix offers three price grades from a standard definition streaming to one device, high def streaming on two devices, and the Platinum option of 4K quality streaming devices on four devices. The variety of options fit Airbnb owners who have a variety of budgets. The basic services are one of the cheapest streaming services but still have great features.

Netflix Pros

  • Affordable and customizable
  • Can be changed to multiple language settings
  • Can be used on multiple devices from one account
  • Netflix provides access to popular exclusive Netflix productions

Netflix Cons

  • Content may not be up to date. Netflix does not offer up-to-the-minute streaming of the latest episodes of series and movies unless they are part of their productions.
  • The Netflix library is outdated. A fair percentage of the Netflix library is outdated and, quite frankly, a waste of space. Other streaming services carry a far more up-to-date library than Netflix.
  • Content varies from region to region. If your Airbnb property is in the United States, then you shouldn’t have a problem, but some locations outside of the US have a limited range.

Best for Amazon Shoppers: Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a top tier membership service that allows users to access instant videos, TV, music, and exclusive discounts on shopping with two-day shipping from Amazon as a bonus. 

Users have access to Amazon Primes’ in-house award-winning movies and series. They also have access to a shopping platform that is convenient and offers exclusive Prime benefits to subscribers.

Prime instant video works similarly to Netflix and provides an extensive library of movies and TV episodes with on-demand streaming through all your compatible devices. Prime Music offers over 2 million songs to choose from or an upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited, which boosts your access to over ten million tracks.

If your guests prefer to read, Amazon prime provides a vast library of free books as well as Kindle-sharing capabilities where your guests may share books with friends and family. Users may also store unlimited photos on Prime Photos to record their happy stay at your Airbnb property. 

Amazon Prime Features

  • Free 2 day shipping on all your Amazon purchases. If Amazon is your chosen platform for shopping and you make frequent purchases, then Amazon Prime is the option for you or your guests.
  • Prime provides on-demand streaming of movies and TV episodes, including exclusive Amazon original award-winning movies and series.
  • Prime Day discounts for Amazon Prime members exclusively each year over two days, usually in July. 
  • Prime Music streaming with advertisement-free to thousands of playlists in every genre of music that your guests prefer.
  • Prime Photos allows account holders to store unlimited photographs in the Amazon Cloud Drive.
  • Kindle-lending library allows access to over 800,000 ebook titles for your guests to enjoy.

Amazon Prime Pros

  • Suits users who frequently shop on Amazon 
  • Access to Prime Video
  • Access to Prime Music
  • Access to Amazon Twitch Prime, which suits younger guests who want to stream games online
  • Less expensive than other streaming services
  • Require special access code to make purchases on your Prime account

Amazon Prime Cons

  • The Amazon Video library is not as extensive as Netflix
  • Some videos are only available for renting/purchase
  • Amazon Prime only offers free shipping and discounts on their products
  • Purchasing features may not benefit Airbnb guests

Best Streaming Devices for Airbnb (2021)

Best High-End 4K Streaming Device: Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K will provide your Airbnb guests access to all their favorite media on iTunes and supports several popular streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, ESPN, and Apple originals from Apple TV+. Apple TV has an iconic status in the video streaming niche and remains one of the top choices for color clarity and sound available. 

Their stylish remotes and well-designed menus make the Apple 4K stand out from their competitors and provide the immersive sound of Dolby Atmos. They also offer the best voice control features and extended access to movies and shows for purchase from services such as Vudu and Amazon.

Apple TV 4K Features

  • The HDR capacity uses four times as many pixels as traditional HD and delivers unsurpassed color and clarity.
  • The A10X Fusion chip is the fastest graphic chip available and delivers the best imagery of all the streaming devices on the market.
  • Apple 4K offers multi-user support via their control center with collections and recommendations based on each user’s activity.
  • Access to Apple TV+ offers thousands of movies to rent or purchase to suit everyone’s taste. This service is customized and curated to provide the latest shows to suit your browsing history. 
  • The Apple TV remote not only looks stylish, but you may adjust your volume or change a channel from anywhere in the room without having to point the remote at your TV.
  • Dolby Atmos-compatible sound system delivers enhanced audio tracks realism. The Apple 4K is the first streaming service that offers both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certification for a fully immersive cinematic experience.

Apple TV 4K Pros

  • The Apple 4K supports all other streaming services
  • Easy connection to other Apple devices
  • Highest quality cinematic sound and visual experience 
  • Affordable 4k video content on iTunes
  • Apple 4K provides a sleek and modern remote with voice features.

Apple TV 4K Cons

  • Does not work well with Youtube 
  • Expensive
  • Needs the proper television and sound system to enjoy its full features

Important Thing to Consider Before Choosing the Apple TV 4K

Unfortunately, your guests will not be able to enjoy the full impact of the advanced sound and imagery of the Apple 4K streaming unless you provide an up-to-date 4K/UHD TV.

Older HDTVs of 1080p will work well with your TV for HD content, but you will not get the full benefits of 4K resolution or HDR.

This fact may mean that your initial outlay could be cost-prohibitive, so unless you are on the top end of the luxury Airbnb market, this may not be the choice for you. However, the full Apple TV 4K kit and its immersive cinematic features may be a draw factor in a competitive Airbnb market.

Best for Alexa-Based Airbnb: Amazon Fire Stick 4K TV

The Amazon Fire Stick transforms any TV into a smart TV by simply plugging the handy Fire Stick into your television’s HDMI receiver. 

Integrated with all of Alexa’s voice technology, this handy device is perfect for Airbnb rentals with other Alexa-based devices. The Amazon Fire Stick supports leading HDR formats and Dolby Atmos Audio and provides access to the latest 4K viewing through an ultra-fast processor.

With the most user-friendly format, your guests can easily access all their favorite streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon prime, and CBS, among a host of others. 

Alexa enabled voice commands to enable searches and control easily, and the users have access to 4K Ultra HD, HDR, and HDR10+. Amazon prime compatibility means that you can offer your guests 500,000 movies and TV episodes, and countless channels.

There are four versions available in the Amazon range, the standard, 4K, and TV Cube. Airbnb owners with a 4K compatible television should consider the Fires Stick 4K version to up their hosting game.

Otherwise, the standard Fire Stick supports up to 1080p, which delivers quality viewing for those who don’t want to break the bank. 

Amazon Fire Stick 4K Features

  • It offers an Alexa voice remote. The Amazon Fire Stick offers one of the most responsive and effective voice-controlled remotes via Alexa. Your guests can control the TV, soundbar, adjust volume and mute, or search for content such as movies and TV shows. The voice controls are highly responsive and provide unlimited access to Amazon Prime for one of the broadest viewing selections out there.
  • It has a superior picture quality. With the Amazon Fire Stick, your guests can access the latest 4K Ultra steaming up to 60fps. The color and clarity are exceptional with the clarity of Dolby vision, HDR 10, and HDR10+. The cinematic and immersive Dolby Atmos audio enhances the viewing experience and can be accessed on selected titles on Prime Video, Disney, and Netflix when connected to compatible sound systems.
  • Your guests can enjoy all their favorites like Netflix, Disney+, STARZ, Showtime, Apple TV, and more. Your guests can decide on news, sports channels, or search for shows and titles in super quality 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR10+, or Dolby Vision. You can set the mood for a romantic stay with millions of song choices through services such as Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and more. 

Amazon Fire Stick 4k Pros

  • One of the most straightforward streaming devices to set up
  • One of the best voice controls via Alexa
  • Affordable in comparison to other streaming devices
  • Provides internal storage of up to 16 GB
  • Unlimited access to Amazon Prime

Amazon Fire Stick 4K Cons

  • You will need a high-speed internet connection (which you should have anyways)
  • The Amazon Fire Stick doesn’t offer any standout streaming features of its own 
  • It tends to favor its own Amazon media sales and does not favor free access channels such as Roku

Best for Android Devices: Google Chromecast (3rd Generation)

Google Chromecast is the top choice for Android TV for Airbnb owners. The dongle style device does not require any electrical outlet and fits straight into your HDMI slot on your television. All you need to do is connect your Wi-Fi, and your guests can stream their chosen content to their heart’s content.

If your Airbnb guests have an Android device, they will be able to view all their new holiday pics and videos of their trip via the Chromecast, which is a nice touch and a potential value add for your listing. 

Although the Chromecast is highly efficient via Wi-Fi, you can’t connect with Ethernet connections unless you upgrade to the Chromecast Ultra. As Ethernet is one of the most stable connections available, you might lose out on a flawless streaming experience.

Google Chromecast 3rd Generation Features

  • Google TV organizes all your content across all your favorite streaming devices in one intuitive interface for easy searching and control of your content.
  • Google Assistant voice controls allow you to search and adjust your favorite viewing content easily through voice control.
  • Google Chromecast customizes your guest’s viewing preferences by recommendations based on their saved content and viewing history.
  • Access to over 700,000 movies and TV episodes and choose from millions of different tracks to suit your mood. 
  • Chromecast is an excellent choice for YouTube TV enthusiasts to browse and watch content live from over 85 channels.

Google Chromecast 3rd Generation Pros

  • The top Android TV streaming device
  • Best for YouTube enthusiasts
  • Compatible with Google Home
  • Switches between compatible devices seamlessly and easily

Google Chromecast 3rd Generation Cons

  • Does not provide ethernet connectivity
  • Does not have processors to support 4K, UHD, and Dolby Atmos
  • Relies on the hardware in your existing TV
  • The Chromecast kit does not provide a remote

Best for Affordability for Dolby Vision and Atmos: Roku Premiere

One of the top-selling streaming devices, Roku Premiere supports HD, HDR, and 4K in excellent resolution and optimized color for your television. Roku supports services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, CBS, Prime Video, Sling, and more through an affordable subscription.

Roku plays Youtube without any issues and comes with a handy remote with voice searches similar to Siri or Alexa.

Roku is easy to set up. Merely plug in the included Premium high-speed HDMI cable and connect to the internet, and your guests are ready to stream a variety of movies, series, sports, and news. The software is updated automatically, so you don’t have to worry about upgrades once it is running.

Roku does not charge an activation fee, equipment rental charges, or hidden support fees, making this an affordable solution to your Airbnb media needs. Roku can be connected to any TV and does not require a Smart television, but to enjoy the full features of HD, 4K, and HDR, you will need a compatible television.

Roku Premiere Features

  • It has high-quality visuals, including HD, 4K, and HDR with sharp resolution and enhanced color.
  • Roku is easy to install and start streaming, and it comes with its own high-speed HDMI cable in the kit.
  • Superior access to both paid and free channels, unlike other streaming devices that favor their paid channels.
  • It can be used on any TV with an HDMI connection, so it is versatile and adaptable to your Airbnb rental equipment.
  • It includes an easy-to-use remote with shortcuts to your favorite channels.

Roku Premiere Pros

  • Supports a wide variety of streaming services
  • Has an impressive range of variations 
  • Supports 60 fps videos
  • Streams YouTube effectively
  • Affordable and competitive price
  • Supports Dolby Vision and Atmos

Roku Premiere Cons

  • Can only support one television at a time
  • Needs high-speed internet with a router nearby to perform efficiently
  • The remote is not the most sophisticated  
  • Voice controls could be better

Best for Gaming: NVIDIA Shield TV

The NVIDIA Shield TV is a top-class and super fast multifunctional device that is a smart home hub, media server, streamer, and game console that suits the younger demographic of family Airbnb rentals. 

The NVIDIA Shield supports 4K, HDR, and the cinematic benefits of Dolby Atmos and DTS-x sound. The NVIDIA allows guests voice control features through Google Assistant and Alexa equally well and provides easy access to countless apps, TV shows, games, and movies. 

The NVIDIA Shield is more extensive than most streaming units and has a more complicated installation process than most other streaming devices. However, the lightning-fast processing and high-end graphics make the NVIDIA Shield an excellent and versatile choice for your Airbnb rental.

NVIDIA Shield TV Features

  • NVIDIA comes with an inbuilt Chromecast for Google-friendly devices and activities.
  • Functions as a high-end gaming console to suit younger guests and family-focused Airbnb rentals.
  • 4K HDR compatible with immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS-X sound.
  • It provides a hands-free operation with Alexa and Amazon Echo for an enhanced user experience.
  • It is a Smart Airbnb Rental ready and can control lights, thermostats, and cameras by voice commands.

NVIDIA Shield TV Pros

  • Super fast and great graphics
  • Provides high-end gaming features
  • Access to all the favorite apps and streaming services
  • Delivers 4K and HDR quality with Dolby Atmos for superior sound
  • Great for younger guests and family reservations
  • Built-in Chromecast

NVIDIA Shield TV Cons

  • NVIDIA is on the higher end of the price spectrum
  • It is larger than most streaming devices and has a more technical installation process

Conclusion

As the world moves into the digital streaming age, Airbnb owners need to provide a reliable connection for guests to enjoy their favorite apps and channels.

There are a variety of choices to suit both your budget and your target demographic to provide such great entertainment that your guests won’t want to leave.

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