Why Do Hotel Fitness Centers Have Such Crappy TV Channels?

A typical hotel room in the US has dozens of channels including premium channels like HBO. Go down to the fitness center, fire up the TV on a shiny new piece of equipment and get a sparse, crappy selection.

What’s the deal?

It does not seem a limitation of the equipment since many have empty channel slots.

Cost is always a good place to start. Presumably it costs a lot per room to have a wide channel selection, yet I wonder how much is the marginal cost to extend it to a few treadmills.

I recently had an expiring IHG cert and my wife and I took a staycation in NY, the place where you get the least for the most in hotels. The fitness center of the Intercontinental New York Times Square was top notch, nice design with new equipment. Then I saw the channels, vastly reduced from the in-room selection:

  1. Intercontinental
  2. Broadway
  3. CNBC World
  4. CNBC
  5. Fox News
  6. History
  7. BBC [America]
  8. HLN
  9. VH1
  10. Comedy
  11. TBS
  12. ESPN Classic
  13. ESPN U
  14. Nick
  15. Cartoon Network
  16. HBO
  17. HBO 2
  18. [blank]
  19. [blank]

Intercontinental New York Times Square Fitness Center Channel Selection 01

Intercontinental New York Times Square Fitness Center Channel Selection 02

ESPN Classic and ESPN U but no ESPN? No CNN or even MSNBC to go along with Fox News? No Bloomberg? BBC was BBC America which shows sci-fi re-runs all weekend. No international channels in a hotel where most of the guests were speaking other languages? How many fitness center users need Nick and Cartoon Network instead of news and sports?

This is a trivial thing yet trivial things I sometimes find the most interesting. It is so widespread there must be a reason.

Readers, any insight? Are certain channels promoted with sweetheart deals? Seen any worse channel selections? (yes, I realize plenty have none)

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  • Adam

    Digital vs. Analog? HD vs. non-HD? A lot of fitness equipment, even pieces manufactured in the last two years, only take analog signals. And a few ellipticals take only digital. One very large gym I know has mostly analog-only machines, a few digital-only, and some that show both types.

  • I know what you are talking about! The only thing I can think of is that they don’t want you to get too settled into the machine and make other people wait. 🙂 I know there have been times when I was wanting to catch some program and the treadmill did not have it while the tv in the room did. It made me race through my workout to dash back upstairs!

  • dan

    The analog v. digital issue could not be outcome determinative since surely ESPN and CNN are available in basic analog cable. I am sure they are since I have them in my rec room on the little five dollar a month analog Comcast box. I also doubt it has anything to do with comfort and people settling in on machines. I think most likely it has to do with a licensing deal with the cable company. For public areas, they are only allowed to include a special reduced range of crappy channels. No idea what the purpose of this licensing deal is but it I don’t see how else this could be as consistent a problem. Even at my local gym there is the same issue. The TV’s only have a limited range of channels. The cable is through Comcast and there is no way one could buy such a small limited package from Comcast normally.

  • Heh, it’s not just in hotel gyms. For some reason, many NYC apartment gyms also have limited channels to the point where I’m thinking why even offer TV at all. Granted, for apartments, they don’t have contracts to provide TV for the whole building.

  • @WeddingSpend – my gym in Jersey City is dreadful in that respect, typically a few grainy channels, each day they are different, and always switching numbers, today was the first in weeks the ESPN appeared, and clearly, too, but CNN was gone.