Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Death of the in-flight movie: Qantas' entertainment revolution

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. The airline is changing how passengers spend their time during flights. Photo / Getty Images
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce. The airline is changing how passengers spend their time during flights. Photo / Getty Images

Qantas has overhauled its inflight entertainment to keep up with changing consumer trends.

The airline faces the same problem other carriers do, a glut of content screening in their passengers' homes.

Qantas head of digital and entertainment brand, marketing and corporate affairs Jo Boundy said the airline was undergoing a huge transformation and in-flight entertainment (IFE) had been part of that.

The airline last year finished an 18-month review of entertainment across all parts of its operation.

READ MORE:
Qantas flight crew don black after losing Rugby World Cup bet
Airlines go head to head

"It became apparent that although we'd always been considered pretty good in the entertainment space we'd probably lost a bit of ground in the last few years," Boundy said.

Consumer trends have changed dramatically in the last five years. Movies that had played on planes a few months after being in the cinema had been OK at one time but that had changed.

"You're sitting at home in your lounge, you've got Netflix, Apple TV, on demand TV and Spotify and it's all on multiple devices. People would get on a plane and find it didn't have the wow factor any more," she said.

BIGGEST MOVIES ON QANTAS - 2015:

The airline accepted it was not expert in entertainment so formed a partnership with Stellar Entertainment, an Australian company that buys movies and other content for more than 20 airlines around the world.

For Qantas, Stellar works with Hollywood and Australian producers of content such as SkyTV and Foxtel. In consultation with the airline it buys the content and Panasonic Avionics in Forest Lake, California pumps movies into the IFE.

Qantas increased by about three times the amount of entertainment on board planes.

There is a consumer trend to want to consume a lot of content - binge watching is popular. They watch an entire box set over a weekend in their living rooms - my thought is what better time to watch a box set than on a 24-hour flight to London.

The volume of box sets, news bulletins and more Chinese and Japanese content has increased, games and music that weren't so popular were taken off.

Hollywood movies remain the most watched aboard Qantas planes.

"Eighty per cent of the people watch 20 per cent of the content - everybody goes straight to premiere blockbuster latest release - but with the other 20 per cent is interesting," Boundy said.

"It's almost guilty pleasures, there's a lot of Kardashians that gets watched When you've got a lot of spare time and nobody's dictating what to watch people pick really kooky stuff."

BIGGEST TV SHOWS ON QANTAS:

She won't disclose what it costs to buy screening rights but the new deal with Stellar had significantly reduced the multi-million dollar spend and allowed it to buy greater volumes of content.

Eighty per cent of the people watch 20 per cent of the content - everybody goes straight to premiere blockbuster latest release - but with the other 20 per cent is interesting.

Airlines pay an "early window" premium to get movies straight from cinemas before they go to DVD. Hollywood churns out up to 15 movies a month and Qantas will take about 90 per cent of that.

Like other airlines Qantas won't screen movies about plane crashes or terrorism but says it otherwise takes a more liberal approach than other carriers.

Safety and security were prime considerations, Boundy said.

"If someone is watching that content and feeling unsafe we don't put it on," she said.

"If you're sitting on a plane and watching a movie about a plane crash that can make you feel uncomfortable and panicked and that becomes a safety issue for us."

Some Middle Eastern airlines will edit out shots of actors drinking wine or wearing skimpy clothes.

Qantas won't screen R-rated movies but where there is sufficient demand for them will tone them down such as it had to do with The Wolf of Wall Street, which was cut to become MA15, Boundy said.

Qantas' top movies of 2015:

• Frozen
• American Sniper
• Despicable Me 2
• Taken 3
• The Wolf of Wall Street

Qantas top movies all time:

• Frozen
• Skyfall
• The Departed
• The Godfather
• The Dark Knight Rises

Top all time TV shows:

• Modern Family
• Peppa Pig
• Big Bang Theory
• Top Gear
• True Detective

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 04 Dec 2016 03:05:18 Processing Time: 766ms