This article originally appeared in The Education Issue of APEX Experience.
Binge-watching began with the invention of DVD box sets more than a decade ago, and gained popularity as a natural result of DVR and on-demand services. Now, inexpensive streaming networks like Netflix and Hulu have made bingeing the norm – and not on the ground.
According to Maura Chacko, vice-president, development at Spafax, airline passengers expect to consume media at 30,000 feet in the same way they would on the ground.
“Passengers do request having not only the most current seasons of programming available onboard, but also box sets of full seasons, or as many episodes as possible … especially on long-haul flights,” says Chacko, who oversees the in-flight entertainment (IFE) television programming for many of North America’s major airlines.
For Chacko, binge-watching television onboard definitely “enhances the passenger experience.” Many airlines have responded by providing full-length television series on their IFE systems. Some offer streaming entertainment systems via onboard servers, allowing viewers to stream binge-worthy content on their own devices. The House of Cards, Netflix’s first original series to win an Emmy, has been added to several airlines’ IFE catalogues, including Delta Air Lines, United and Qantas. British Airways has launched its own in-flight HBO channel, offering favorites such as True Detective and Game of Thrones. Passengers don’t even have to wait for takeoff to tune in.
Qantas’ recently overhauled in-flight entertainment system, Q Entertainment, includes a higher volume of content, designed to accommodate passengers with binge-watching tendencies. Olive Wirth, Qantas Group executive of brand marketing and corporate affairs says, “This means … 100 hours more TV and movie content, 160 hours of box set viewing, triple the number of new release albums and double the number of blockbusters.”
Chacko confirms that an airline’s television package matters more than ever before. “The price of a flight is always going to be the main differentiator when passengers are picking one airline over the other, but if you have similarly priced flight tickets and one of them offers 300 TV shows while the other airline only has 20…” she trails off, concluding that passengers are more likely to pick the flight with more TV shows.
For many airlines, binge-worthy entertainment is only one step towards a more customized and connected IFE future.
See our list of binge-worthy programs to check out!