March 31 2020  |  Inflight Entertainment

JetBlue beefs up IFE content

By Rick Lundstrom

This is a special feature from PAX Tech's April Aircraft Interiors Expo Hamburg 2020 edition.

The Avant system from Thales has give JetBlue the ability to add extra content to its IFE offering

JetBlue’s much anticipated flights to Europe are still planned for the future, but already there is enough inflight entertainment onboard many of its aircraft for passengers to binge watch their favorites.

A large increase in storage capacity that is offered by the new Thales Avant systems is aboard a growing number of aircraft in the JetBlue fleet. Now, passengers have access to more than 1,000 titles between movies and full seasons of television series.

The airline announced the new content expansion in November that brings full seasons of television shows, cable television programming, streaming music and podcasts into the cabin, along with the ability for passengers to access headlines and stories in thousands of publications through an association with PressReader.

The first Avant equipped systems are on the a select number of A320s and A321neos, while the airline’s original Live TV is still flying on A321s and A320s. When transition to the new IFE hardware is completed, the airline that pioneered live television and added high-speed Internet with Viasat, will have written another new chapter in its inflight entertainment system supply.

“Almost 20 years after disrupting the industry with free live TV at every seat, we are again redefining inflight entertainment by listening closely to our customers’ feedback and offering even more options to make the most of their time onboard,” said Mariya Stoyanova, JetBlue Director of Product Development in the November 6 announcement of the expanded content offerings.

Already, the content has gone through a number of rotations. JetBlue’s Manager Product Development Inflight Content and Tech Andrew Litavis, tells PAX Tech that full television seasons are often changed monthly along with new movies and classic titles. The airline closely watches engagement metrics to decide what comes off the aircraft in a given month. JetBlue’s selection of 15 podcasts will remain on board at least through September of this year. To round out the selection, JetBlue will continue to offer its live TV though its association with DirecTV, which places more than 100 channels at the touch of the 1080p screens that are part of the Avant system.

What passengers will notice in the newest additions to the lineup is an effort by the airline (and the industry in general) to create the at-home experience by adding second-screen capability, which has earned the airline a finalist designation in this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards.

“JetBlue’s latest partnerships build on the airline’s ongoing effort to provide a ‘multi-screen’ experience which allows customers to use a range of devices, simultaneously, including HD seatback entertainment, just as they would in their living room,” says Litavis.

A rundown of the offerings brought on board in November is an example of some of the biggest companies that are shaping home entertainment:

  • Showtime: Available on Avant are full seasons of shows on the popular cable channel. In November, JetBlue passengers connecting to Viasat’s Fly-Fi connectivity received a free 30-day trial of Showtime’s streaming service and access to every original series, movie and documentary shown on the personal devices.
  • Spotify: JetBlue’s podcast partner offers programming from Anchor, Gimlet, Parcast and Spotify Studios. Podcast titles include Business of HYPE, Conspiracy Theories, Dope Labs, Heavyweight, The Horror of Delores Roach and Superwoman
  • Inscape: JetBlue’s “meditation partner” that offers 20 sessions that include advice on jetlag, breathing exercises and sleeping advice
  • PressReader: Passengers on JetBlue can register for 24 hours of free access to thousands of publications after they connect to Fly-Fi. PressReader also offers an exclusive discount on a month subscription after the flight of US$9.99 for 15 publications

The airline has also rolled out fresh content adding “snackable” videos to its airline-owned seatback channel, JetBlue TV. New content partners include:

  • Food52 (Food): Big Little Recipes, Hit the Road, Snack and More Ketchup, Please
  • Houzz (Lifestyle/Design): A behind-the-scenes look at home renovations in destinations throughout the JetBlue network
  • The Nantucket Project (Business): A thought leadership series highlighting notable figures with impactful ideas
  • PureWow (Entertainment): It’s Wine O’Clock, Hack My Travel and Vacation Confessions
  • Thrillist (Travel): What to Know Before You Go, Gatekeepers
  • Well + Good (Health); Inflight Fit, You Versus Food and What the Wellness

Top movies on JetBlue:

  • A Star is Born
  • The Lion King (2019)
  • Aquaman
  • Alita: Battle Angel
  • Bohemian Rhapsody

Top television shows on JetBlue:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Puppy Dog Pals
  • Chernobyl
  • Modern Family
  • Friends