Apex-Experience-6.4-14 Wireless IFE 2

Image: Patricio Otniel

APEX Insight: Unbridled by stationary seatback screens, wireless in-flight entertainment has the potential to connect travelers with movies before, during and after their journeys.

A new breed of preloaded and wireless in-flight entertainment (wIFE) platforms is pushing boundaries by pioneering pre-takeoff and post landing content. “Wireless in-flight entertainment is obviously transforming the way airlines distribute content to passengers,” says Tanguy Morel, CEO of Interactive Mobility. The Paris-based company says its wIFE platform and companion app offer “a genuine door-to-door travel experience.”

Air France experimented with IFE to go in May to highlight its Cannes Film Festival sponsorship through its “Cinema to Go” promotion, which allowed passengers to continue watching its selection of movies from the festival up to 15 days after flying. “It’s a trend that will extend further in the ensuing years as it allows fresher content to be on board,” Morel says, “and it offers great opportunities for personalization and data leverage.”

“Wireless in-flight entertainment is obviously transforming the way airlines distribute content to passengers.” – Tanguy Morel, Interactive Mobility

Airports are showing interest in this model, too. Heathrow partnered with SITA and Adaptive Channel to introduce EntertainMe: self-serve kiosks that let departing Terminal 5 travelers download movies, newspapers and magazines to their personal electronic devices (PEDs). “Passengers get the content in seconds and can then access it [in flight] without needing, or paying for, any data connection,” explains Dan Ebbinghaus, senior vice-president of Communication and Infrastructure Solutions at SITA.

Airlines like preloaded and cloud-based solutions for their fast, flexible and low-cost attributes, but have been limited by the strict protocols of studios that are reluctant to offer their latest movies on passengers’ PEDs, anchoring movies and other content to the flight portion of the journey only. However, with improving security and encryption technology, Morel is optimistic: “The time when early-window content will be offered on such platforms will surely come.”

“The time when early-window content will be offered on such platforms will surely come.” – Tanguy Morel, Interactive Mobility

As for competition posed by streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime? Interactive Mobility and Immfly, a wireless entertainment provider based in Barcelona, are unfazed. Immfly’s marketing manager Sara Ollé explains that the company’s platform maintains optimal user data, allowing its streaming partners, such as BBC and Atresmedia, to “connect more with their targeted audience.”

And Morel believes movie streaming site partnerships make little sense in the long run. “Airlines have a huge knowledge of their passengers. They are aware of the power of this data and want to keep it. Netflix’s ultimate goal is to increase its subscription rate, not to reinvent the in-flight experience. In this sense, streaming sites are not direct threats.”

“In-Flight Entertainment to Go” was originally published in the October/November issue of APEX Experience magazine. 

Ari is the news editor at APEX Media.