With no shortage of blockbusters, content providers are getting creative with their IFE offerings, leaving airlines with the tough choice of selecting the right content by
Lionsgate will be releasing the first two seasons of Casual, a co-production with Hulu
t is one of the first things a passenger checks once seated and for some, it can make or break a good flight. ‘It’ is an airline’s inflight entertainment selection. Aside from the food and beverage offering, an airline’s IFE offering can be the one thing a passenger will remember about their onboard experience, either favorably or not. And it is not just the variety of content; passengers are also looking for choice when it comes to how the content is enjoyed, whether on a seatback screen or on a PED. “Today’s airline passengers seek ubiquitous content,” says Mark Sgriccia, Vice President, Content Operations and Strategy at Lionsgate Entertainment, Inc. “In flight, you can currently watch content through overhead screens, embedded video-on-demand systems, personal handheld devices (owned by the passenger or the airline) or laptop computers and/or DVD players. Our Penny Black Media is currently working with a new Le Carre thriller, Our Kind of Traitor starring Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Naomie Harris and Damian Lewis
goal is to make Lionsgate content accessible in all of these ways and more as the passenger experience evolves.” Sgriccia adds that passengers equipped with their own personal electronic devices are just the “tip of the iceberg,” since streaming Wi-Fi, the introduction of high dynamic range (HDR) content and virtual reality could all have an impact on content availability and passenger consumption. Liz Wilson, Sales Manager of Discovery Private Networks, says they are not seeing a drop in program licensing yet, but with over 50% of passengers streaming content to personal devices, more airlines adding Live TV channels, and streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix making Discovery Private Networks’ content available to its members, they expect program licensing to begin to drop in the next several years. According to Soni Agnani, Global
Sales Director for Turner Inflight Services, while a substantial number of passengers are often looking to view their own content on board, a majority still rely on the airlines’ selection, since it gives passengers access to a variety of content that may not be available at home. Mark Horton, Head of Worldwide Sales for Cinesky Pictures, sees the rapid change to digital platforms as a huge improvement for airlines, their passengers and content providers, specifically the quality of the IFE offering. “Quality will continue to improve — both picture and sound,” he says. “In fact, I think audio technology could be an area that sees big changes. Wouldn’t it be great not being tethered to a headset and have the sound coming from speakers in the seat?” Cathie Trotta, Managing Director for California-based Penny Black Media says the move towards streaming content to personal devices is already having a positive impact, in that it allows for more volume and variety. “This trend will no doubt grow and we welcome that opportunity,” she adds.
Variety, the spice of life
While the influx of PEDs on board and the consequent demand for the ability to stream IFE content on said devices is undeniable, a significant concern for most passengers is the variety of content selection, with some forms of content sought after more than others. Providing this variety has thus become a top priority for airlines, as doing so will aid in creating an enjoyable inflight experience for passengers. 24 | PAX INTERNATIONAL | JUNE/JULY 2016