JetBlue frees up movies on demand; launches crewmember picks

JetBlue joined the on-demand content community this month with an updated software load from IFE-integrator Thales InFlyt.

The new system, now available on two of the carrier’s Airbus A321s, allows passengers to control movie playback rather than be limited by the old looped system. It is being implemented as a software update to the LTV4 LiveTV solution on these aircraft.

As a software implementation the install time is relatively quick; the most recent plane received the update on an overnight stay in Boston last night. The update also offers a 10x increase in the number of movies available to passengers, from three to 30.

Kontron APEX 2016 avionics_apex16_300x300_Additional content is expected in the near future as licensing arrangements are finalized. As part of the adjustment to the audio/video on demand (AVOD) platform and increased selection, the carrier will also transition to making the movies free to passengers, according to an internal memo seen by RGN. Historically only the TV product has been free and movies were a paid option on domestic flights; on international routes the movies were free as the TV was not available. A company spokesman declined to confirm the new pricing structure, indicating that it was “only testing AVOD at this point”.

The initial content options include a range of new releases and older films. Crewmembers are involved in the content selection as well with some movies flagged as “Crewmember Picks” in the system.

The system update is not a surprise; the carrier first indicated it was readying for the change in January of this year. The current deployment can be found on one of the 200-seat A321 frames (ship 949) and also on a low-density plane (ship 947) so the upgrade will not be strictly tied to new higher density seating planes (up to 200 seats on the Core all-economy A321 frames), which was also announced at that time. The conversion to 200 seats on the Core A321s is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The A320 fleet will see a similar product roll out beginning in 2017 as the STV+ system from Thales is installed during that fleet’s cabin retrofit program. On those aircraft the implementation is directly tied to the seat changes so the coexistence period with multiple offerings will last longer.

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