1. Lifestyle
October 2, 2017updated 04 Oct 2017 1:07pm

Can you watch Netflix on a plane? Soon it’ll be providing in-flight movies

By Jack Rear

There are few things worse than being trapped on a flight for several hours without good in-flight entertainment. To be fair, plenty of airlines do have access to the latest blockbusters, but many don’t.

Still, flights without good entertainment options might be a thing of the past thanks to Netflix. The streaming-service announced at the 2017 APEX Expo that they’ll be sharing their tech with airline carriers.

How it’s going to work:

It’s all rather complicated stuff, but essentially, streaming services like Netflix get banned frequently on flights. This is because they require a lot of Wi-Fi speed and bandwidth. If everyone on a flight tried to access Netflix, the in-flight Wi-Fi would totally pack up. Not good news for anyone. However, Netflix are bandwidth wizards.

The streaming service has been available on mobile phones for ages. As these devices use cellular data consumers usually want to conserve their data. Therefore, if Netflix wants users to use their products on mobile, they have a vested interest in conserving bandwidth. To do so, Netflix made more efficient mobile encodes. These provide DVD-quality video while using 36 percent less bandwidth.

Up until now, Netflix has reserved these encodes for mobile. However, starting in 2018, it has announced that it’ll be partnering with airline carriers to offer it on flights too. This means flights will be able to offer better free in-flight Wi-Fi and allow customers to access Netflix on planes. It’s a win-win situation.

Netflix hopes that non-members will be incentivised to sign-up to a free 30-day trial on board, creating a new customer acquisition stream for the company.

Not a new idea:

This isn’t the first time that Netflix has taken to the skies. In 2015 it partnered with Virgin America to offer this technology to consumers, allowing them to access Netflix from their carry-on devices. In fact, it was so much of a thing to shout about that Netflix had House Of Cards-themed flights at one point.

Since then, Netflix has launched similar partnerships with Aeromexico, Qantas and Virgin Australia.

It remains to be seen whether Netflix will keep their Wi-Fi reserved for carry-on devices or whether they’ll be available on the in-built screens on planes.

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