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APEX @ MMM 2019: Signal Lamp on the Growing Relevance of Esports to IFE

APEX @ MMM 2019: Signal Lamp on the Growing Relevance of Esports to IFE

APEX Media is at APEX MultiMedia Market in Dublin this week and I’m joined now by Neil James from Signal Lamp, welcome Neil. — Thank you very much. — It’s not your first TV market, is it? — This
is the first one I’ve been an exhibitor at, yes. — And tell us a little bit about
Signal Lamp and how you came to become involved with with that outfit. — Yeah so
eleven and a half years of working with Panasonic and before that with Rockwell
and Sony, and I’ve always had this this passion for the content side of the
business, we used to say at previous companies that the IFE systems are the
plate and the content is the food, so it’s you know it’s interesting to be highly focused on the the actual experience for the passenger through the
through the content. — And so for Signal Lamp this is the first time exhibiting
at MultiMedia Market. Why do you feel like it’s important or this is a
relevant event for you? — There’s two sides to our business, there’s the technology
side which is associated with advertising and then content
distribution, and then the second side is the entertainment side and it’s
nice to be able to separate those two conversations. When we’re aircraft Interiors or the the APEX EXPO it’s great to get into a lot of detail with IFE OEMs about
the technology and everything else, but rarely do you get chance to talk just
about the content and it’s nice to be able to be kind of surgical about just
talking about the entertainment here and the content itself. — I’m actually going to
ask you a little bit about the technology now, just out of curiosity,
we’ll come back to the content. But can you talk a little bit about how you’re
shaking at things up with distribution models and the advertising platform
as well? — Yeah, I think on the distribution side, one of the reasons that I joined
Signal Lamp was David Villarreal who’s the founder of the company and I worked
together 16-17 years ago and were talking about how can we take this
content integration process and just make it go away. There’s been a lot of
presentations given over the years in WAEA and then APEX around it’s a non value-added thing and yet we haven’t really moved on and I think most airlines feel if you look at the total spend they have on what they call
content, in their budget 30 to 35 percent of that is actually non-value-added
technical stuff that just needs to go away. Content needs to get the faster, it needs to get there more cost-effectively so
that the content creator gets more of the money for license fees and the
exhibitor, the airline, can put more content on board and get rid of all
those non-value-added steps in the middle, so our goal working with the content owners that we represent is to be able to go from
the origin of the file to onboard the aircraft with as few steps as possible
fast and cost-effectively. — How’s that working out? — I mean, the response from the airlines is great. It’s a matter of working with all the OEMs to make sure
that they’ll be supportive and a willing partner in that, and there’s a
little bit of a conflict with CSPs who’ve established themselves as labs
and they’re looking to make that into a profit center, but I think the the
groundswell is towards everybody recognizing content’s got to get there
faster and more the money’s got to flow to the content creator and less to the
the middleware which doesn’t add any value. — Alright and ok, let’s get back to
the content creators, now you guys are doing something really special with e
eSports and online gaming. Now, the IFE systems and the connectivity on board
are not to the point where we’re actually looking to bring those games,
the live gaming experience on board, but the content generated by this massive
sort of subculture is quite popular. — Yeah there’s 1.6 billion gamers in the
world at seven hundred and forty or so million of those consume content of
other people playing video games and what’s happening now in the eSports
world is those are growing into professional leagues, so we have a
contract with Activision Blizzard to be their exclusive distributor into the
travel markets of all of their content. They produce about six-and-a-half
thousand hours of content a year of live VOD, a tremendous amount of content, and what we’re finding is that games like
Overwatch are truly spectator sports. Twice as many people watch the Overwatch League as play the game so it’s truly turning into a spectator sport and in
our industry generally there’s only a couple of airlines that have ever
really carried any eSports related content. And the most amazing part is the
alignment between the demographic of the gamer and eSports fan and the airlines’
emerging high-value passengers, the millennials. It’s almost a one-to-one.
They’re cord cutters who are hard to reach with traditional forms of
media, relatively high income, high education, travel a lot and and have a
tremendous interest in brands that are associated with games that they love so
there’s a huge opportunity for brands to be able to be associated with eSports
specifically from our perspective with Blizzard because it’s a very loyal fanbase
who are very loyal to brands associated with with Blizzard. — Okay so let’s boil it
down I guess to what your message is to the people here that you’re looking to
do business with, if you if you could nutshell it, what’s what’s the opportunity
here that you’re trying to to share with everyone? — It’s a massive opportunity for the airlines to entertain and create a brand
association with those 1.6 billion fans who are invariably very loyal to the
games that they play and the eSports that they follow. — Alright, thank you so
much for your time, Neil. — Thanks very much.

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