DirecTV Launches Domestic 18-Channel Live TV Service on Delta Air Lines Widebody Planes

DirecTV is partnering with Delta Air Lines and Viasat satellite network for the launch of an 18-channel TV lineup on select Boeing 767-400 aircraft flying select long-haul domestic routes. The domestic live TV offering marks the first time a U.S.-based airline has integrated live television into seatback screens onboard its widebody planes, including breaking news and weather, and thousands of TV shows and movies.

Channels include: ABC, Bravo, CBS, CNBC, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, GOLF, FOX, HGTV, FOX News, HGTV, MSNBC, NBC, NFL Network, TBS, Telemundo, TNT, and USA.

“We are thrilled to make history being the first airline to offer this type of in-flight entertainment,” Doug Eichler, SVP, DirecTV business solutions, said in a statement.

Ekrem Dimbiloglu, managing director of in-flight entertainment and connectivity at Delta Air Lines, said the Atlanta-based carrier sees planes as the ultimate platform for entertainment and content discovery. DirecTV first began offering in-flight entertainment in 2000.

“This milestone brings us ever closer to ensuring that vision is reality on as many routes as possible,” Dimbiloglu said.

Delta is no stranger to Hollywood, with both Disney+ and Paramount+ offering streaming access aboard select flights.

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Paramount Looking to Extend Streaming Brand Across All Consumer Access Points

Since rebranding erstwhile subscription streaming platform CBS All Access to Paramount+ less than two years ago, the service has tracked the fastest subscriber growth across the entire SVOD market, which includes Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Peacock and HBO Max. The service ended the most-recent fiscal period with 46 million subscribers, which, when combined with Showtime Anytime, BET+ and Noggin, totaled 67 million subs worldwide for the company’s SVOD digital footprint.

Paramount’s ad-supported free streaming service, Pluto TV, ended the period with 72 million monthly active users globally.

To generate subscriber growth, Paramount has aggressively sought out third-party companies to introduce the Paramount+ service to wider audiences, including Prime Channels (access to Amazon’s massive Prime membership), Walmart+ (free streaming members), and free access to international passengers on British Airways and most recently, domestic travelers on Delta Air Lines, one the nation’s largest carriers handling 50 million passengers annually.

To Jeff Schultz, chief strategy officer and chief business development officer of Paramount Streaming, the moves underscore the media company’s goal to expose subscription streaming and free, ad-supported content to a diverse consumer base across the world’s largest retailer, e-commerce platform and airline. 

With streaming the focus among Paramount’s content studios, brands, franchises, ad sales and distribution, product and technology in 30 markets around the globe, being able to attract a household of users (rather than individuals) through diversity of content such as kids content, procedurals, sports and news, is a competitive advantage , according to Schultz.

In addition to the “Top Gun,” “Paw Patrol,” “Scream,” “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Mission: Impossible” movies, Paramount+ offers access to TV franchises such as Criminal Minds,” “SpongeBob,” “NCIS,” “CSI” and “Yellowstone.”

“Paramount brings a unique level of creativity and ambition to deal-making and we’re not satisfied unless we’re doing deals that are different and differentiated from others,” Schultz said in the company’s “Stream On” interview.

The executive contends that the diversity of content, franchises and distribution are all distinct competitive advantages that money can’t buy.

A franchise is not a decision, it’s an asset,” Schultz said. “What the streaming market has shown us in recent years is that money is not enough. We bring that to streaming as a unique competitive advantage over even the biggest streamers.”

Report: Apple iTunes Drove Initial Disney+ Sign-Ups

With Disney’s branded subscription streaming video service operational for more than a month, new data suggests a large number of (domestic only) subscribers joined the platform through Apple iTunes. Apple bowed its own SVOD service, Apple TV+, on Nov. 2.

Disney said more than 10 million people signed up for the service in the first 24 hours. Wall Street firm Cowen & Co. estimated the service had 24 million subs by the end of November.

In a report from 7Park Data, monthly subscriptions accounted for 70% of post-launch subscriptions. The Disney+, Hulu and ESPN combined bundle represented about 20% of total subscriptions. Disney said more than 10 million people registered (not subscribed) for the service in the first 24 hours.

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Regarding pre-launch sales, 7Park said 56% were for at least a year — 30% opted for a 3-year plan (only offered to D23 members) and 26% chose the annual subscription. The Cyber Monday sale ($10 discount for 1-year plan) boosted annual subscriptions on 12/2 and 12/3, accounting for 35% of sign ups.

Receipts directly from Disney accounted for 58% of the subscriptions with iTunes coming in second at 33% in the first month. Roku and Google Play accounted for 7% and 2% of sign ups, respectively.

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7Park said that with Disney+ offering a seven-day free trial (14 days to Delta Air Lines SkyMiles members), the data does not track how many free trials converted into subscribers.

Disney+ Offering Free 14-Day Trial to Delta SkyMiles Members

Anyone downloading the Disney+ app and signing up for the $6.99 monthly service gets a free seven-day trial period. Now the upstart subscription streaming service is doubling the promotional period for frequent flyers on Delta Air Lines.

Delta SkyMiles members received an email with a special promo code enabling 14 days of free access to Disney+ after downloading the app.

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The limited time offer, available at, expires Jan. 31, 2020.

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Delta Restoring Same-Sex Love Scenes to ‘Booksmart,’ ‘Rocketman’ In-Flight Movies

Bowing to social media pressure, Delta Air Lines said it would restore same-sex love scenes edited out of two feature-length movies, Booksmart and Rocketman, available on its flights.

“We are immediately putting a new process in place for managing content available through Delta’s in-flight entertainment,” Delta said in a media statement.

Delta’s hub city Atlanta has one of the largest gay populations in the country, including one of the most politically active.

The statement said studios typically provide in-flight movies in a theatrical, original version and an edited version.

“We selected the edited version and now realize content well within our guidelines was unnecessarily excluded from both films,” read the statement. “We are working to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The controversy arose this week after actress Olivia Wilde took to Twitter to voice her surprise that Delta was screening a version of her directorial debut, Booksmart, about two female coming-of-age high school teens, had omitted all gay references.

“Turns out some airlines work with a third-party company that edits the movie based on what they deem inappropriate. Which, in our case, is … female sexuality?” Wilde tweeted Oct. 30.

Separately, Buzzfeed reported Delta had also restored all gay references in Elton John biopic Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton.

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“The studio has agreed to provide a special Delta edit that retains the LGBTQ+ love scenes in both Booksmart and Rocketman that will be on our flights as soon as possible,” Delta said. “Currently, we have Gentleman Jack, Imagine Me and You, and Moonlight onboard and countless content in the past that clearly shows it is not our practice to omit LGBTQ+ love scenes.”

Delta Air Lines Accused of Censoring In-Flight Movies

Delta Air Lines is denying it censors pay-per-view movies made available aboard its flights.

The issue emerged on social media this week when actress Olivia Wilde questioned on Twitter why a lesbian sex scene and the words “vagina” and “genitals” had been cut from her directorial debut, Booksmart.

The coming-of-age comedy about two high-school girls (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) attempting to ditch their studious ways is executive produced by Will Ferrell and Jason Sudeikis. It has generated about $25 million at the box office worldwide since its May theatrical release.

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“I finally had the chance to watch an edited version of Booksmart on a flight to see exactly what had been censored,” Wilde tweeted on Oct. 30. “Turns out some airlines work with a third party company that edits the movie based on what they deem inappropriate. Which, in our case, is … female sexuality?”

Olivia Wilde

Similar accusations against Delta surfaced regarding editing out gay references in the Elton John biopic Rocketman and the Chris Rock comedy Carol.

Delta, in a media statement, said it routinely offers edited and non-edited versions of movies on flights. It insisted it does not mandate any “homosexual content” be removed from in-flight entertainment.

“We value our inflight entertainment options as a means to reflect the diversity of the world,” the Atlanta-based carrier stated. “We are reviewing the processes of our third-party editing vendors to ensure that they are aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion.”

Booksmart was released into retail channels on Sept. 3 by Disney/Fox Studios.