The Rapid Ascent of In-Flight Entertainment

by Marisa Garcia + Skift Team - May 2014

Skift Research Take

In-flight entertainment is a hotly contested sector of the cabin interiors and inflight services sectors. Over the past twenty years it has evolved into from a one-size-fits-all entertainment platform to a highly customized and personalized multimedia entertainment experience, and it’s only just getting started. The evolution of the theatre in the skies is a trend to watch closely in years to come.

Report Overview

Today, in-flight entertainment (IFE) is one of the largest growing sectors of the aircraft interiors market. The value of the IFE market will reach $2 billion by 2015, and the expenditure on content to supply that IFE is in the range between $450 and 500 million, according to Aircraft Interiors International Magazine. The premiere of new IFE technologies garnered a great deal of attention at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg this April from airlines and industry watchers alike, rivaled only by the excitement generated by new in flight connectivity options; which is, in fact, is a related tech development.

Larger, HD-ready smart IFE screens, powered by new “invisible” wiring systems, and eliminating under-seat control boxes, were also a prime feature of the new A350XWB aircraft which Airbus debuted on the day before the Aircraft Interiors Expo opened. The new announcements of ever more lavish cabin programs by top airlines are generally accompanied by the introduction of enhanced IFE offerings.

In this report, we’ll look at how IFE has evolved in recent years to such a prominent element of the in-flight experience, why IFE is such an important factor to the airlines in product differentiation, what new innovations are in store for this technology, where IFE lags behind modern technology and when it might catch up. We provide some important highlights and feature key players and airline case studies here, in order to reflect the predominant trends in today’s market.