American Airlines is moving away from seat back entertainment, emphasizing that they believe everyone has their own devices anyway so as long as they provide seat power (which incredibly is still lacking on many legacy US Airways ‘basket of deplorables’ aircraft) they don’t need expensive boxes which are also heavy and therefore mean greater fuel burn too.
Most customers of course are bringing their cell phones and watching a show on a phone isn’t the same as on a screen. And even when families may own iPads they may not own one for each person.
After American’s earnings call senior executives took questions from employees at their State of the Airline event.
Kurt Stache, American’s Senior Vice President Marketing, Loyalty & Sales, was asked 3 questions about American’s inflight entertainment and wifi products.
- When will we see live TV on ViaSat-equipped planes?
- When will the titles through streaming IFE match the seat back IFE?
- When will there be a single login purchase for inflight wifi that works across all systems?
Live tv as you know is now available on all satellite gogo-based aircraft. That’s about 100 narrowbodies. The ViaSat is making its way through the rest of the narrowbody fleet. So that will be turned on early December or January timeframe. We’ll flick the switch then, so the aircraft that have ViaSat at that point will have live TV. And I think..we’re done by April/May with the remainder of the fleet.
Single sign on is really important. We have 3 satellite providers if you will. It’s important for our customers if they have a multi-segment journey in their itinerary that they have the ability to log in once and not be confused by the various screens. So we are diligently working on that front and hope and expect that some time in the first quarter of next year we’ll have that up and running.
While American’s live TV on their Gogo 2Ku-equipped aircraft offer CBS, CNBC, CNN, Disney, ESPN, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, Telemundo, TNT, and USA, the library of movies and shows in the streaming product is not equal in quality to what’s offered through seat back entertainment on the aircraft that have it.
Stache notably did not answer when streaming entertainment would match what’s offered in seat back. I have not heard about any plans to license as much new content for their streaming system, which is another reason that many customers find the streaming option to be inferior.