Quick Takes is a Q&A series designed to connect content companies with prospects while in-person events are postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lights, camera, action!
SVP, Content & Media Services, Global Eagle Entertainment
Location: Los Angeles
How has the pandemic affected your content slate or schedule?
The effect of the pandemic on the media and entertainment industry in general has been astonishing. Traditional release models that appeared to be unshakable have been challenged as cinemas have closed, production has slowed, and streaming to the home has become the focus for most major studios. This has disrupted the conventional content pipeline and, like everybody in the industry, we have had significantly fewer big theatrical new release titles made available to us. As viewers in lockdown at home have discovered and delighted in more non-traditional content through the various streaming platforms, so too have we discovered new and enjoyable content that we are excited to bring to our clients.
What releases are you most looking forward to?
We are looking forward to offering Minari to our clients in July, which won the 2021 Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language, Best Supporting Actress Oscar, SAG and BAFTA awards, the US Competition Grand Jury Prize and an Audience Award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival! We are also looking forward to releasing First Cow, Bios, Distant, The Good House and The Duke.
What is your outlook on the state of the industry moving forward?
Professionally and personally, we are feeling optimistic as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available. Over time, the industry will recover, but every part of the in-flight entertainment (IFE) ecosystem will need to adapt to yet another new normal. We expect to see changes in both the type of traveler that is flying and the type of content they consume.
Airlines have had to evaluate how and where they spend their budget, and IFE budgets have been scaled back as a result. This is one of the many reasons we’ve created Iris, a simplified, cost-effective IFE subscription service that bundles content into channels that are refreshed
monthly and provide flexibility and choice to the airlines, while remaining affordable.
Do you find peoples’ viewing habits have shifted in terms of what they watch and how they watch it? How does your company’s content adapt to this new reality?
With the constant rise in streaming service subscriptions, there is a level of expectation when it comes to choosing what to watch. Content libraries need to be intuitively curated and displayed so the passenger can navigate and make their selections with ease. We are excited to be working on AI-driven auto-recommendations to mirror the at-home streaming experience.
We believe IFE will grow into a service where specialist, inaccessible or exclusive content can be discovered alongside traditional movie and TV titles. Short-form mobile content and digital native content have been overlooked in IFE, and Global Eagle is thrilled to bring unique content from partners like Complex Media Network to airline audiences worldwide.
Theatrical windows have been all but eliminated, do you think this is temporary?
Yes. The theatrical window and desire for viewers to lose themselves in a great story on the big screen will always prevail. However, the duration and exclusivity of the window and the type of content to be released theatrically has already changed and will continue to evolve as streaming service subscriptions continue to rise. Today, each of the major studios, including Netflix and Amazon, are trying out different strategies with regard to the type of content that will be released theatrically, along with the duration of the theatrical window and simultaneous day/date or accelerated release in the home. As we return to some type of normalcy and people return to the cinema, the financial results of each model will start to take shape and we anticipate that further change. The adoption and trial of new models will continue for the foreseeable future.