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Seat-back screens or wi-fi streaming?


Airline weigh up pros and cons of ejecting screens
Airlines are looking at a future without seat-back screens, choosing to phase them out in favour of inflight entertainment streamed directly to passengers’ mobile devices via improved wireless service.
Jettisoning the screens will save airlines money, with all the wiring adding weight to the planes, while streaming will expand content for passengers. But the changes are taking time to take off.
Screens appeared in their earliest form in the late 1980s with a few movies played on a loop. By the early 2000s, passengers were making choices on demand. Today, technology has developed enough for wireless systems to take over.
But mergers and acquisitions mean a mix of fleets with varied approaches. Adding to the confusion is the slow pace of fleet makeovers. By the time next-generation planes are in the air, the tech on them could already be obsolete.
Built-in screens are likely to remain on long-haul flights for some time. Fans of screens point to the fact that the movies are recently released, whereas for streaming, movies are not available until released for home viewing. Around 90% of passengers click on “new releases” on seat-back screens.
Streaming also makes it more likely that a passenger will watch scenes with sex and violence that are inappropriate for neighbouring passengers – such as Game of Thrones.
The New York Times


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