Media

Move over, in-flight movies: YouTube content coming to Virgin America flights

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YouTube has reached a new agreement with commercial airline Virgin America that brings web video content to passengers during flights, the site announced today.

Beginning Dec. 15, passengers can watch videos from five YouTube channel partners on the small screen that’s in the back of each seat’s head rest. The content includes Warner Brothers’ H+ The Digital Series, WIGS’ Blue, Geek & Sundry’s Written By a Kid, Crash Course, and Barely Political’s The Key of Awesome. — so, not exactly a playlist of 20 funny cat videos you may have missed.

“We chose content that is reflective of the diversity available on YouTube today,” YouTube CMO Danielle Tiedt told VentureBeat in an email. “The selection provides a nice representation of the content that our partners are creating for the platform and gets it in front of an audience in a new and unique way.”

A new crop of videos will roll out every two months, according to YouTube. The videos are only available on flights within the U.S. and Mexico, which I suspect has something to do with licensing. It’s unknown at this time if a different selection of YouTube channel partner videos will be available on other international flights, but it wouldn’t be surprising.

The move is a serious win for YouTube, which is currently trying to show people its content is every bit as good (if not better) as what’s on traditional television. (I’d much rather watch some original YouTube videos than watch reruns of unfunny broadcast network sitcom or a subpar movie that was recently in theaters.) It’ll be interesting to see if this new partnership ends up driving long-term traffic to these particular YouTube channel partners as well.

Virgin America flights do provide passengers with in-flight Wi-Fi, and many people can argue that as a result, this deal really doesn’t mean much. I definitely have to disagree, because I’ve consumed tons of reality TV shows because I was bored and nothing else was on.

YouTube said it plans to make similar deals over the next year to get its content in front of people in new ways.

Photo via YouTube