Delta retires streaming entertainment option

Delta retires streaming entertainment option
Delta Connection aircraft no longer offer streaming entertainment on board

For years Delta Air Lines highlighted its on-board content library as a valuable part of the inflight entertainment offering. It claimed more than 1,000 planes across its fleet offering the Delta Studio streaming service, on top of the in-seat entertainment. Turns out scant few passengers streamed anything on shorter flights, however, and now the carrier is shedding that cost.

Quietly and without any public announcement, Delta has discontinued offering its Delta Studio branded streaming entertainment offering on all aircraft without seatback screens. This includes all two-class regional jets and the mainline Boeing 717.

The missing feature was first noticed by your author on a Delta Connection branded Republic Airlines Airways-operated Embraer E170, where the entertainment option in the Wi-Fi portal was conspicuously absent. The portal’s FAQ section confirmed that the missing entertainment was no error. “We’re very sorry but Delta Air Lines is no longer offering free entertainment on this flight,” reads the answer in response to the question asking where the entertainment is located.

“Due to low usage of the Delta Studio streaming option, we have discontinued support for Delta Studio streaming to personal electronic devices previously available on a limited number of regional and Boeing 717 aircraft without seatback entertainment,” said Delta spokesperson Grant Myatt.

Delta previously announced that it will install high-speed Wi-Fi across its entire fleet by the end of 2024. And while Delta recently confirmed Viasat as the service provider for its twin-aisle fleet, no announcement has been made regarding which provider or technology it will use for these aircraft now losing the streaming IFE option. In the meantime, travelers on those flights will have neither access to entertainment on board nor access to inflight internet capable of supporting streaming content.

While the average stage length scheduled block time of the impacted aircraft is just over 100 minutes for March 31, many of Delta’s regional jets and 717s operate significantly longer flights. For example, New York LaGuardia to Oklahoma City operated by a CRJ-900 is blocked at over four hours. Over 1,100 flights for March 31 are blocked at over an hour and a half, where passengers might start to expect entertainment options.

Delta now finds itself at a competitive disadvantage on the IFE front. All of its major competitors offer either free entertainment or free Wi-Fi (or both) on all aircraft larger than 50 seat regional jets. American, Alaska, United, JetBlue, and even Breeze offer either free entertainment or free Wi-Fi on similarly sized aircraft.

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