The latest inflight entertainment content partnership comes from Delta Air Lines and Hulu. The carrier will offer some Hulu original content beginning in August across its fleet of more than 700 aircraft with embedded IFE screens at the seat.
Customers continue to tell us entertainment is a top priority. That’s why we keep extending our lead in having more aircraft with seat-back entertainment than any other airline in the world, and continue partnering with entertainment giants like Hulu to bring customers at-home favorites at 30,000 feet. These investments reinforce Delta’s reputation as the entertainment airline.– Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Director – Onboard Product and Customer Experience
The move delivers popular content to passengers, but stops short of a true binge-worthy inflight screening experience. The episodic content is limited to 3-6 episodes of the shows, not full seasons much less full collections. The selections for August 2019 are:
- The Handmaid’s Tale – S1 Episodes 1-3
- The Mindy Project – S4 Episodes 1-6
- Marvel’s Runaways – S1 Episodes 1-3
- Castle Rock – S1 Episodes 1-3
- Casual – S1 Episodes 1-4
- Light As A Feather – S1 Episodes 1-3
- The Act – S1 Episodes 1-3
- Shrill – S1 Episodes 1-3
- Batman and Bill – Film
- Fyre Fraud – Film
- Ask Dr. Ruth – Film
- Minding the Gap – Film
- Into the Dark: New Year, New You – Film
So many screens
Delta’s position with more than 700 aircraft featuring embedded IFE screens makes it the global leader by a large stretch. The entire mainline fleet, save for the MDs and 717s include the in-seat screen option. That translates to approximately 75% of the total seats flown by Delta or a regional partner and 83% of the total ASMs.
Licensing and Streaming
The streaming service content on a plane bears some resemblance to promises from a couple years ago about the idea of airlines flying the full Netflix catalog in on-board storage. That approach was supposed to solve the inflight connectivity capacity challenges, but it did not appropriately consider other factors, from licensing to content refresh processes. With original content the licensing restrictions are much easier to solve. Rather than negotiating with Hollywood studios for public performance rights across the full suite of content the airline can secure a far more reasonable deal with Hulu.
The other factor is storage space available on board. While the inflight entertainment systems continue to grow in capacity the cost to expand them on board remains significantly higher than on the ground. Integrating that content into the existing IFE systems would be another challenge to overcome. For now, adding a subset into the existing content rotation cycle makes a certain amount of sense.
JetBlue‘s partnership with Amazon covers the cost of the bandwidth for streaming the content rather than loading it on planes. American Airlines and Apple Music also offer a streaming solution option. In both cases the bandwidth costs are significantly lower than licensing the content and storing it on the planes.