Netflix has teamed up with Virgin America for offering free Wi-Fi to Netflix subscribers on select aircraft so that they enjoy unlimited video streaming even while flying. Netflix’s move follows a similar service from rival Amazon earlier this year.
Copying Amazon: JetBlue pact
Now Netflix customers boarding one of Virgin America’s new ViaSat Wi-Fi-equipped planes will be able to access the subscription VOD service, including originals such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, on their smartphones, tablets and laptops for no additional cost until March 2, after which internet fees will apply.
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“As Wi-Fi becomes more ubiquitous, it’s going to be increasingly possible for members to enjoy Netflix wherever they want. We’re delighted to partner with Virgin America to extend the joy of Netflix to our members at 35,000 feet,” said Netflix’s global head of business development, Bill Holmes.
Earlier this year, Amazon announced a similar pact with JetBlue allowing free, unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi access to Amazon Prime members for streaming videos on flights that offer Fly-Fi service. Normally, such a service costs $9 per hour.
Could help Netflix gain new subscribers
For Netflix, this deal with Virgin America is one of its biggest branding initiatives. The Virgin America planes that offer high-speed Internet will have a House of Cards ad adorning their sides. In addition, the airline also has plans of offering seasons 1-3 of House of Cards for free through its recently upgraded Red touch-screen seatback in-flight entertainment system. Apart from branding, Netflix will also make efforts to acquire new subscribers. Virgin America passengers will be encouraged to sign up for the standard 30-day free Netflix trial.
To promote this new feature, Michael Kelly, the actor who received an Emmy nomination and appeared in House of Cards, was on a six-hour flight with Virgin America from San Francisco International Airport to Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport on Tuesday.
Virgin America, which markets itself as a low-cost but upscale carrier, is making use of its partnership with Netflix to tout its Wi-Fi upgrades. Earlier this summer, the airline entered into a connectivity partnership with satellite operator ViaSat for providing Internet speeds on par with wire-line broadband. The U.S. airline has been offering Wi-Fi on every flight since 2009 through Gogo Inflight Internet.