Delta’s CSP, Touch, on how Delta Sync fosters collaboration


Together with other stakeholders in Delta Air Lines’ ecosystem, content service provider Touch Inflight Solutions is helping the US major enable the next level of customer personalization as part of the new T-Mobile-sponsored Delta Sync programme, which rethinks the relationship between loyalty and inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC).

The Florida-based company started providing “full scope” content service provisioning for Delta in January 2023. But whilst some carriers take a generic approach to content — largely leaving it up to the passenger to discover what they want to watch on the entertainment portal — Delta’s approach for Delta Sync is very different, and indeed groundbreaking.

An increasingly personalized experience plus free inflight Wi-Fi await loyalty members who sign into the portal with their member credentials on board fitted Delta aircraft.

With Delta Sync, customers can also enjoy premium entertainment from brands they know and love — like Paramount+ — in the air and on the ground. And in the ‘coming soon’ category, Delta Sync also “will deliver a new inflight seatback screen experience that lets you customize your trip with tailored information, curated entertainment options and more”, Delta assures.

“I think here we will have the opportunity — for maybe the first time in a real way — to actually cater to the individual and not to the group of passengers,” Touch vice president of business development André Valera told RGN this fall at the APEX/IFSA Global EXPO in Long Beach. Valera also serves as vice president of business development at Touch’s sister company Oxygen, an airport lounge designer, and is co-managing director at cloud-based media asset management specialist ABOVE, which represents a JV between Touch and digital video technology company castLabs. All three businesses operate under the umbrella brand Conetic.


To help support Delta’s personalization programme, Touch is leveraging data “on the Delta side including their own loyalty programme scheme” whilst Touch enriches the level of information and data made available including usage data on board Delta’s aircraft. This gives Delta and its CSP a greater understanding of how passengers interact with the content. Touch is also enriching metadata about the content itself so that the parties know much more about the content that is displayed for passengers.

Predictive data information is also in play, enabling Touch to connect to available data sources that measure the anticipated likelihood that passengers will get hooked on certain content sources, explained Valera. “If you sum up all of that, together with loyalty information, together with the learning curve of getting to know what’s happening” as passengers interact with Delta Sync, adds the Touch executive, it builds “a bespoke, custom, totally personalized experience”.

Tying loyalty to free inflight Wi-Fi and offering this sort of bespoke experience obviously incentivizes non-members to create a Delta SkyMiles account. In doing so, Delta is enabling what Valera personally views as a “two-way strategy” that sees passengers enjoy an enhanced inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) experience whilst at the same time increasing the revenue center for Delta — in turn setting a standard that others will follow.

But for Touch, the Delta Sync programme is also unlocking new avenues of technical collaboration with other IFEC stakeholders. Said Valera:

So, if you think from that perspective, you have the content owners; us [as CSP]; you have the connectivity providers; the system providers on board; you have the airline and their own loyalty programme and all of that. So, this ecosystem is being forced to work together like never before. And that eventually will open up doors for this type of vision to be explored by others.

This trickle down effect will help to solve broader issues in the media supply chain “because if you are forced to collaborate more seamlessly with a connectivity or IFE OEM provider to allow for that customization, that means that you need to change media faster, you need to send information into all of these guys faster”, noted Valera.

“If you are doing that to arrive at — what in this case Delta is looking for — you are actually solving other problems that then can be used for a general use case. So, I think, for us, it’s like a leading project that will help us solve problems now with a leverage that we didn’t have before [working] with a behemoth like Delta.”

One of the key tools being employed by Touch is its JV with castLabs called ABOVE, a standards-based platform for encoding, storing and distributing encoded video and related metadata which facilitates dynamic content curation and media updates to aircraft.

With ABOVE, Touch and indeed other stakeholders can slash the amount of time it takes to get premium entertainment in front of passengers’ eyeballs in-flight. What used to take weeks or even months, can be achieved in 24 hours or indeed less. To wit, ABOVE has already been employed by Touch for Delta’s own JV partner, LATAM, and is in use for the novel Delta Sync programme, though Valera was extremely cautious about sharing specifics.

“One of the things that I can definitely share,” he confided, is that ABOVE has the ability to send media to the aircraft immediately. “But that requires the next step, which is the connectivity pipeline, for instance, and the ability of the system to receive that onboard and unpack it. And now we have, in this case, an airline forcing that to happen.”

With a cluster of major Hollywood studios already on board with ABOVE, and relationships with other content creators growing, Touch through ABOVE is able to service the majority of the content library for its customers through that cloud-based workflow. Separately, Touch is also in the process of bringing AI to content recommendations, with its own ‘TouchGPT’ tool facilitating smart curation.

It feels as if dynamic content delivery, thoughtful curation and passenger personalization could be a match made in IFEC heaven.

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Featured image credited to Jason Rabinowitz