AIX: Viasat powers American Airlines live streaming

Don Buchman, Viasat’s VP Commercial Aviation.
Don Buchman, Viasat’s VP Commercial Aviation.

At the Passenger Experience Conference, Don Buchman, VP Commercial Aviation, Viasat, outlined how American Airlines used its inflight connectivity to bring live music to their aircraft.

American Airlines streamed an “Austin City Limits” concert in November, featuring Willie Nelson, the first time the airline had streamed an event live in flight.

The event, which was filmed at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas, marked the 15th time the artist has been featured on the television series, as well as the first time the airline had streamed an event live in flight.

“It was the culmination of 20 years of work,” Buchman said. “We have all this great capacity, but what we are doing is using our bandwidth to bring live music to the aircraft.

“The Willie Nelson concert was a proof of concept,” said Brian Simone, Customer Success Manager, Viasat. “This model can be used to create value for the airline. This was a test if you like, but the feedback on social media was fantastic.”

Inflight WiFi take rates are about 10%, so how did the project hope to extend that?

“This has been talked about for a long time,” said Buchman. “It is rethinking the business model. How can we change things? How can we take the other 90% of folks and bring them online in the air?”

“We take passengers who have subscription models on the ground and bring them into the cabin. It opens up a lot of opportunities.”

Erwan Perhirin, MD Customer Experience and Onboard Products, American Airlines, said it has 550 aircraft fitted with Viasat.

American Airlines has exclusive rights to air “Austin City Limits” content in flight until early 2020, after extending the original agreement by one year.

Vy Duong, Innovation Project Manager, American Airlines said: “We didn’t promote the Willie Nelson event beforehand – from start to finish it took us took just two weeks to organise. When passengers logged on they saw a banner ad for the concert.

“For our next event we want to build a pipeline and promote it more widely,” she said.

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