Survey Results: Passengers don’t always prefer early window content

A common belief that we run into from time to time is that early window content is always more preferred over classic titles. But when was the last time that you willingly choose to watch an unpopular new movie over a popular classic? I would guess that 9 times out of 10, you’d pick the good movie over the bad movie despite the age of the film.

We think that same logic carries into the cabin. But we prefer to back-up our gut instincts with data whenever possible.

Mulling through the results of our 2012 Passenger Survey (due out in a few weeks!), we were able to take an analytical approach to answering what an airline’s content mix should look like.

Who took the survey

First, a few details about the survey respondents:

  • All respondents fly at least once a year
  • Based in 6 countries but skewed towards the U.S.
  • Most respondents travel economy class
  • Age distribution is fairly even and starts at 18 years old
  • Respondents were skewed a bit female

Our analysis and results

The very first step we took was to group respondents into Frequent Flyers and Non-Frequent Flyers. This was done by grouping everyone who flies once a month or more into the Frequent Flyers group and everyone else flying less frequently into the Non-Frequent Flyer group.

The logic behind this decision is because not all passengers matter equally. Frequent Flyers represent a larger number of seats sold and demonstrate different characteristics such as being less price sensitive.

Second, we calculated the average responses which ranged as follows:

  • Popular Early Window
  • Unpopular Early Window
  • Popular Titles out 6-12 Months
  • Popular Titles out 1-5 Years
  • Popular Titles out 5+ Years

You can see how the responses broke down below.

The key findings and implications

Where possible, we prefer to make decisions that best satisfy all customer segments. And in this case, we can.

As you’ll notice, Popular Early Window titles are most preferred on average by both Frequent Flyers and Non-Frequent Flyers. Surprising? Not in the least.

But the next two categories are very insightful. Popular titles that have been out on DVD for 6-12 months are more preferred by Non-Frequent Flyers and equally preferred by Frequent Flyers over unpopular new releases.

Again, completely intuitive and statistically proven. In fact, we ran a couple of statistical tests just to make sure that our findings were sound and that the data was good. Every test showed very strong statistical significance. Or in other words, you can trust the data.

What’s really significant about this finding is that it can save you money by shifting your content as much as possible to classic titles. And again, you are making all passengers on average more happy. A win-win-win!

So the next time that you are ordering your movies, make sure to look at box office receipts to ensure that you are selecting the popular early window titles and ignoring costly unpopular titles that aren’t even satisfying your passengers.

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About Adam Williams

With six years of IFE experience, Adam is currently a freelance writer for several industry publications and marketing consultant for vendors. He can be found online at and @SpeakWithAdam.