Thales to time shift live content for passengers with streaming TV


HAMBURG – In the early days of broadcast television, viewers had to be glued to their screens whenever a television network decided to air a program. While time shifting of live content has become commonplace in the living room, live television on aircraft has not made that technological leap. That may be about to change.

Thales is developing a new technology for its upcoming STV+ streaming TV product that will actually time shift live content for later viewing by passengers on an on-demand basis. The concept is to have the aircraft record primetime network programming received over the direct broadcast system and cache it for later playback, exactly like a home DVR does today. This could potentially solve the content drought that some live TV users experience during many hours of the day.

“Whatever you’re into will be prepared and presented to you similar to the way AVOD programming is offered today,” said Thales InFlyt VP product managementScott Easterling at this week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.

For instance, the onboard STV+ system would record whatever shows are airing on NBC at 8pm on Thursday night, and make that programming available for passengers on the 10am flight on Friday morning, a time slot that otherwise might only have reruns of various judge shows across several networks.

Content will be refreshed frequently, as the major networks are airing new content on a nightly basis. “It’s not going to be there very long, because it’s not going to be prime for very long,” said Easterling.

The STV+ product will launch with DVR-like capabilities for live content, meaning passengers can pause, rewind, and then fast forward like TV content on board the aircraft. This later development would complete the full living room-style DVR experience, giving passengers access to a catalog of various shows from networks across a wide spectrum of interests.

Easterling expects some hurdles along the development path, specifically, securing the rights to time shift content from the networks. “Technologically, there is no problem… We’re going to roll out with content providers, they’re going to work together on this experiment.”