Putting big, bright new HD screens in the seatback is good for passengers. Dramatically increasing the content on those screens is even better. Passengers on a growing number of JetBlue‘s planes now have access to more video, audio, news and relaxation content thanks to a number of partnerships launched by the carrier. New partners for the inflight entertainment include Showtime, Spotify, INSCAPE and PressReader.
Whether you want to binge-watch, binge-listen, connect, disconnect, or just discover something new – you can do it from our new HD seatback screens, your own devices, or more likely, all of the above.– Mariya Stoyanova, JetBlue’s Director of Product Development
The new content is available on aircraft featuring the newer screens. This includes the entire Airbus A321 fleet and a growing portion of the A320s. It should be available on all A320s by the end of 2020 based on the current retrofit program for those planes. It will not be installed on the Embraer E190 fleet as those planes are being retired in the coming years.
The new content partnerships include:
- SHOWTIME: Customers can binge-watch full seasons of select SHOWTIME hits on their individual HD seatback screens. Passengers connected to Fly-Fi can also take advantage of a special 30-day free trial offer to the SHOWTIME streaming service delivering the entire SHOWTIME library – every original series, movie, documentary and more – commercial free to their personal devices.
- Spotify: JetBlue’s newest collaboration with Spotify, the airline’s exclusive podcast partner, brings podcasts from Anchor, Gimlet, Parcast and Spotify Studios to seatback screens. Titles include Business of HYPE, Conspiracy Theories, Dope Labs, Heavyweight, The Horror of Dolores Roach, and Superwomen with Rebecca Minkoff.
- INSCAPE: As JetBlue’s new meditation partner, INSCAPE will deliver 20 curated inflight meditation sessions available on seatback screens. Topics range from “Flying without Fear” and “Jet Lag Relief” to “Inflight Mindfulness.” The INSCAPE programming also includes breathing exercises and sleepscapes. Customers can continue their practice with INSCAPE by downloading the app to their personal device.
- PressReader: JetBlue customers can now enjoy unlimited access to thousands of local and national news publications and magazines, such as the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Newsweek and Vanity Fair, among others via the PressReader app. Travelers flying with JetBlue can register for 24 hours of free, unlimited access once connected to the Fly-Fi inflight wifi network. PressReader also offers an exclusive discount on a monthly subscription after the free access experience – $9.99 for 15 publications.
With content available on the embedded IFE system and on passengers’ mobile devices the carrier continues to build on its commitment to deliver the multi-screen entertainment experience for passengers. Moreover, the new content partnerships build on top of the complimentary inflight wifi, allowing travelers to pick from the larger selection on board or, if they choose, entertainment from other sources on the ground.
Also included in the partnerships is a not to the airline employees. Reports suggest that JetBlue crew gained free access to the PressReader and INSCAPE services as part of these deals.
These new partnerships are not just about delivering more entertainment options to passengers. With the free trial options and targeted discounts for subscriptions these deals represent the new advertising and ancillary revenue model for the carrier and (hopefully) an increase in subscribers for the content providers. Rather than running the IFE/C systems as a pure cost center the airlines are forging deals to offset their costs and occasionally score some promotional consideration as a result. As long as the partner marketing budgets hold up – and the promotions convert to paying customers – this model can deliver big wins for all involved.
JetBlue arguably made one of the most significant deals on this front when it signed Amazon Prime as a sponsor for its FlyFi inflight wifi offering in 2015. The carrier has run similar promotions with the Wall Street Journal, MLB.tv and others since then. But JetBlue is hardly alone in pursuing this model.
American Airlines, for example, announced a similar type of deal with Apple Music earlier this year to stream for free on board. Delta brought some Hulu content to its planes this summer, though its decision to not go for full seasons drew raised some eyebrows. Moving further afield, SonyLIV has a partnership with India’s IndiGo, while AirAsia offers Eros Now content for free via its Rokki streaming IFE platform. Passengers on board can sign up for a free month of service on the ground, similar to the JetBlue/SHOWTIME deal structure.
Perhaps the only major content company that hasn’t bought into the idea of buying its way on board is Netflix. Rather than paying to be on board (or to subsidize the bandwidth costs for streaming its content) these days the company believes that airlines should pay it or partner to share extra passenger data in exchange for a more efficient encoding algorithm. Some airlines have signed on for that partnership as well, though not all are convinced it is worth the sharing.
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