2024 IFE Content Trends, According to West Entertainment


Photo: Ethan Hu via Unsplash
Photo: Ethan Hu via Unsplash

This content is brought to you by APEX Media in partnership with West Entertainment

APEX Media recently spoke to West Entertainment’s newly appointed SVP Entertainment Asif Khan, about the in-flight entertainment (IFE) trends the content service provider (CSP) is expecting to see playing out in aircraft cabins around the world this year. 

Khan joined West Entertainment in December 2023 following over a decade with Etihad Airways, where he occupied the role of Head of IFEC and Publications.

In-keeping with trends on the ground, he believes there is an ongoing shift in viewing tastes, with airlines and passengers demanding high-quality, original content similar to what is available via their streaming services at home.

Added to this, Khan says there is a growing sense of superhero and sequel fatigue, evidenced by the disappointing performance of some of the latest superhero-themed titles and sequels at the box office. “On the other hand, original storylines like Barbie and American Fiction, which weave humor with a strong social message, are doing well in theaters,” he explains.

The combined effect of these trends is that airlines are now demanding more and more partnerships with streaming brands as part of their onboard entertainment. Khan expands, “The halo effect of associating with well-known entertainment brands and providing access to original content is a win-win for the airline.”

Other content trends he thinks will flourish in 2024 include the introduction of more short-form content onboard – “Think Tik-Tok,” he says. Furthermore, he predicts podcasts will take over more and more of the audio budget traditionally reserved for onboard radio.

“People don’t behave on planes like they do on the ground … they tend to go outside their normal viewing parameters depending on what they feel like in the moment and end up trying something new.” 

Asif Khan, West Entertainment

In terms of generating a winning formula for IFE content, Khan is excited by artificial intelligence (AI) and its applications when it comes to data analytics: “The increased use of AI will open up many new opportunities in terms of content personalization for airline passengers.” This is something West is exploring as part of its own analytics service, West DnA (Data & Analytics), which aims to help airlines make the most of their IFE budget with smart content choices based on viewership data and more. 

Khan asserts that an analytical, data-led and usage-based approach to generating a content library for an airline is far more reliable than the previous method of getting passenger feedback via surveys, where their answers were not necessarily truthful. “The issue is that people don’t behave on planes like they do on the ground. Passengers aren’t having to watch what they would with friends or family in the air, which typically influences their choices,” he explains. “Instead, they tend to go outside their normal viewing parameters depending on what they feel like in the moment and end up trying something new.” 

However, AI isn’t a silver bullet. “There are other nuances to programming content for airlines, including cultural and censorship requirements. In other words, the human touch is still required when it comes to curating IFE.”

One area where Khan foresees automation continuing to dominate is throughout the content delivery workflow. West Entertainment is catering to the burgeoning demand for increased efficiency by enhancing its workflow engine, WE by West. “New features that will be added to WE by West Version 2.0, which is coming soon, will include full Power BI integration for better data insights, improved deal and budget tracking features, and an enriched user interface,” he confirms. 

West Entertainment is a sponsor of the upcoming APEX TECH event in Los Angeles from 28-29 February, 2024. Multiple members of the team will be present at the show, with President Kate Groth set to take part in a workshop on “Exploring different data points (environmental, personal, behavioral), how to capture them and how to use such data across the passenger journey” as well as a panel session on “How to curate the best personalized media content offering.”