As part of its commitment to expand its in-flight video offerings, Virgin America and YouTube have announced the availability of five high-profile YouTube channels on Virgin America flights. The content, provided to passengers for free, will be available on all US and Mexico flights whose planes are equipped with the video screens (about 25 percent of their fleet of planes).
While this certainly is a big expansion for Virgin America, it is also a big expansion for YouTube, which has never before had a distribution agreement with an airline. This brings the content to a very captive audience, who is desperately seeking distraction from the mundane event of flying. As someone who flies several times per year for the show, I can tell you the worst part of flying is trying to occupy yourself. We bring movies and books on tablets and laptops, but that requires prep work. Many times I have wanted to be able to watch my favorite YouTube channels or other online content, but am not really willing to pay for the Internet access (on those flights that require it). This is a great option, especially if you like those five channels.
Speaking of the channels, you are probably wondering who they are. Don't fret; I have the list right here! Blue (starring Julia Stiles) from WIGS, Crash Course from Geek & Sundry, H+ The Digital Series from Warner Bros., The Key of Awesome from Barely Political and Written by a Kid from Geek & Sundry. Obviously, in addition to YouTube, this is a huge deal for these content producers. With more distribution comes more viewers, and with more viewers comes more ad revenue.
Hopefully, as this program succeeds, YouTube and Virgin America will work together to bring more channels to the lineup. Obviously missing from the lineup is anything in the news chat category, including entertainment, technology, gaming or culture. I wonder where they could find a channel like that. Seriously, though, it would be good to see an expansion of categories offered, though it is a pretty exciting situation to have at least some of YouTube available to you for free on a flight.
Have you ever pined for free YouTube access on a flight? Let me know in the comments.