Skift Take

If you're not streaming quality content to passengers, you might as well not have an IFE system.

In a Monday Associated Press story about expanded in flight-offerings coming to American Airlines, the carrier hinted at expanded, complementary seatback entertainment coming down the pipeline.

Today, it released details on the nature of that content.

American’s current raft of domestic seatback entertainment has so far been limited to a basic spectrum of NBC-Universal shows, ABCMouse educational content, in-flight radio and the occasional Fox TV show.

The new offerings installed on February 1 dramatically increase the spectrum of complimentary video and audio content to include modern, full-feature films, 60 TV shows and several hundred albums of music ranging from Chuck Berry to U2. While recently released films will still be available for a fee in the main cabin, the update dramatically expands the range of free content available for consumption.

American currently offers domestic seatback entertainment on Airbus A319 and A321 aircraft — typically flown on transcontinental routes — as well as its next generation Boeing 737s. International seatback entertainment, which has always been offered for free, is not changing.

Updates to American’s in-flight entertainment strategy come at a time of record profits and reinvestment by the airlines. Earlier this week, all three legacy carriers updated plans for inflight dining, releasing more free snacks to their main cabins. Inflight entertainment is now turning into another focus.

Already, United Airlines shares free entertainment through their proprietary inflight Wi-Fi system, hosting a similar spectrum of content to what American is providing. In parallel, Gogo, the Wi-Fi provider for Delta, American, and the lion’s share of other connected airlines has its own streaming video solution. Many carriers subscribe to that service and pass along free content to their passengers.

Needless to say, American is still moving in the right direction towards improving the main cabin passenger experience at a price point that few customers can argue with. Updated service is already in place on many transcontinental and intra-hub routes operating the A321T and nextgen 737-800.

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Tags: american airlines, inflight entertainment

Photo credit: Existing seat-back in-flight entertainment at American Airlines. American Airlines

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