Reversal of IFE Trends Supports APEX Position on Entertainment


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    The APEX Board of Directors continues to communicate its stance that seatback in-flight entertainment and bring-your-own-device IFE should not be pitted against each other, but rather embraced by airlines depending on their own unique product/marketing strategies.

    IATA’s latest Global Passenger Survey revealed that a larger share of passengers would rather watch digital in-flight entertainment (IFE) content on a seatback device (54%) than on their own device (36%). The figures represent a U-turn on the 2016 response to the same question, wherein 51% of passengers said they preferred watching content on their own devices and just 39% registered a preference for seatback IFE.

    Passenger preferences may have fluctuated on the topic over the past few years, but contrary to IATA’s conclusion in the below infographic that passengers “don’t want to use [their] phone,” it’s clear there is a consistent demand for IFE to be delivered both through the seatback and via personal electronic devices (PEDs).

    Results from IATA's 2018 Global Passenger Survey
    Image via IATA

    Dr. Joe Leader, CEO of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), explains, “For over a decade, the decline of embedded IFE has been incorrectly predicted. APEX has consistently said embedded IFE will continue to grow over the next decade. At the same time, streaming IFE will encompass more aircraft than ever. IATA’s global survey serves as a warning to our airlines: The answer for IFE is not one or the other; it’s both.”

    “IATA’s global survey serves as a warning to our airlines: The answer for IFE is not one or the other; it’s both.” – Dr. Joe Leader, APEX.

    Michael Childers, chief consultant, Content & Media Strategy, Lufthansa Systems; APEX Board Member and Technology Committee chair, argues that the option to bring-your-own-device was never intended to replace seatback IFE. “In every field of entertainment and media, each new technology platform is greeted with predictions that it will replace all others. But in actual implementation, each new format finds its optimal use in certain circumstances and the previous platform gives up some audience segments and retains some others. Together, they expand the market.”

    According to Babar Rahman, senior manager at Qatar Airways and APEX Board Member, “Wireless IFE streaming is gradually being adopted by several airlines, but in specific geographies and primarily on domestic and short-haul routes. However, on long- and ultra-long-haul routes, most airlines still consider seatback IFE as the primary product offering, giving an option for guests to consume media on secondary devices for connectivity purposes.”

    “This is an excellent testimony on the current trend of providing customers with a “feels-like-home” experience onboard. Customers enjoy their leisure time in a multi-device environment and, in the world of bleisure, combine work and spare time,” comments Juha Järvinen, CCO of Finnair and APEX president. “Our industry needs to facilitate that, and on behalf of APEX and Finnair, we believe we are on right track to develop the entertainment experience into a new level together with our technology and entertainment partners.”

    “In-flight entertainment strongly increases NPS scores for our airlines, as shared recently by CEOs at APEX EXPO, which is why our advice to airlines has consistently been to provide outstanding in-flight entertainment on embedded IFE or personal entertainment devices,” concludes Joe Leader.

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