Amazon takes to the air for in-flight streaming
James R | On 07, May 2015
Amazon is taking to the air with a new deal that will offer in-flight streaming with JetBlue aircraft.
Passengers on the US airline will be able to travel later this year while bingeing on Amazon Prime’s line-up of TV shows and movies, using JetBlue’s “Fly-Fi” broadband Internet.
The complimentary web connection will mean that Prime Instant Video subscribers will be able to watch titles from the US library (which is different to the UK library), while non-subscribers will be able to rent and purchase videos.
“We want to provide the best digital video experience to our customers and we’re excited that, with JetBlue, we will raise the bar in airline entertainment,” comments Michael Paull, Vice President of Digital Video at Amazon. “We’re thrilled that Fly-Fi technology will give Prime members and customers unlimited, on-demand access to the full catalog of titles from Amazon’s digital video library while they’re in the sky—without the need to rush to download one more episode or movie before taking off, we’re helping make airline travel more enjoyable.”
Access to Amazon’s entertainment library will be built into the JetBlue Fly-Fi Hub, giving customers instant access to titles through laptops and other devices without any pre-flight download required.
This is not the first time that airplanes and on-demand video have flown side by side: Norwegian Air offers movies available to watch through tablets, laptops and smartphones using its own in-built VOD service. The service, which was the first in the world, charges €7 per title and allows you to stop watching a movie and continue watching it on a separate, connecting flight.
Amazon may not be the first, but it marks another step in the company’s ambition to reach as many users as possible – alongside its Fire TV set top boxes and sticks, the retailer’s combination of both pay-per-view and subscription video means that even if people don’t join its Prime membership scheme (the price of which just jumped to $99 in America), Amazon can still make money.
Amazon’s airborne VOD will be available on all of JetBlue’s Airbus A321 and A320 aircraft this year, and on JetBlue’s Embraer E190 aircraft in 2016.
Is this the next step in VOD viewing, saving you the hassle of having to pre-download movies from iPlayer or elsewhere to watch on a tablet? If so, the big question is: when will Netflix enter the streaming airspace? Either way, next time you head over to the USA and hop on a flight, check your tablet: you may be in for a surprise.