Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) might be on the verge of having a new way to expand its reach to international markets--via airlines traveling around the world.
The idea of putting Netflix aboard an international flight has been embraced by Dave Davis, CEO of leading airline industry content service provider Global Eagle. Davis stopped short of saying that Netflix and his company were talking about a partnership, but did say that such a combination would be beneficial to both parties.
"I think this idea of a terrestrial-based streaming service offering their product [Netflix] in the air is something very interesting to us and we think that has a lot of potential and could attract a lot of interest from airlines and customers, so it is something we have to take a look at," Davis told Runway Girl Network.
The idea of Netflix in the friendly skies was first floated earlier this year when Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt told the Irish Independent that "it is a much better consumer proposition for us to put a content server on the plane and then let you click and watch what you want."
Following Hunt's logic, consumers could log into their Netflix account and use the plane's wireless system to stream it.
Right now the idea of streaming Netflix on an airplane is just a pipedream, thanks to capacity constraints on airplanes. Using what little bandwidth is available to stream video "is an inefficient use of bandwidth and an expensive way to do it," Davis said.
Instead, Davis said, "the answer is to get as much (capacity) on board the aircraft as possible and not use valuable bandwidth."
While there are other, similar in-flight video offerings floating about, Netflix would deliver a brand name that consumers want and already use on the ground. The problem isn't the service, it's the rich content library that comes with it--a library that is probably too big to handle even with beefed up bandwidth. Davis conceded that the Netflix content library would either have to shrink or the content would have to be stored locally and accessed after limited streaming or overnight updating. However, such a service is possible, Davis said.
"Those systems are upgradable," he said, adding that storage costs are dropping precipitously "so we don't think it's a technical cost hurdle."
While Davis refused to say whether Golden Eagle is talking to Netflix, he sounded an optimistic note about the possibility.
"I don't see these big streaming services interested in building hardware and going to airlines and trying to get libraries on their own. I think this is relatively small for what these guys want to do and I think if anything it would be through a partnership (such as what) we're talking about," he concluded.
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