Josh Marks: The Future of Global Eagle

March 29, 2021

As Global Eagle has now successfully emerged from Chapter 11, we start a new course of technical and service innovation in our Connectivity and Media businesses. In the same way the world has changed over the past year, so too has Global Eagle. Our restructuring allowed us to focus our business on connectivity and media solutions for mobility end-markets, including maritime, aviation, energy platforms and government applications. We have been properly structured and capitalized to deliver on our great product pipeline, building on our innovative team that has deep knowledge of our customers’ needs and a clear vision for tomorrow’s passenger and guest experiences.

Since global lockdowns began a year ago, the mobility sector has seen profound changes. After Covid-19 hit, government restrictions limited international passenger travel by land and sea. Videoconferencing and collaboration tools caused long-term changes in business travel demand. Air freight boomed, as did commercial shipping. After oil prices plummeted last year, the energy industry has seen a strong recovery this year as economies start to recover. In each vertical market we serve, our clients have faced tough decisions about how to allocate their budgets, maintain a healthy workforce and adapt to changing government and passenger requirements.

Our emergence from Chapter 11 comes as the world cautiously begins to return to a new sense of normalcy. As travel increases, our customers are eager to welcome their passengers and guests, and to deliver best-in-class experiences. But in the last year, the ways in which passengers connect and consume content have changed, probably forever. When in the air or at sea, guests expect Internet connectivity with the power, coverage and consistency to work remotely. Guests subscribe to digital streaming platforms, so when they board planes or ships they expect new and innovative content they haven’t yet seen. With consumers locked down for the past year, there is extraordinary pent-up demand (and accumulated wealth) for vacation and leisure experiences. Airlines and cruise lines in particular need to adjust their passenger experiences to reflect these changes.

Global Eagle is positioned to respond. Having observed these trends over the past year, we used our restructuring to focus our business on our airline, cruise, and mission-critical maritime, energy and government customers. Our mobility expertise is unsurpassed, and we have a portfolio of connectivity and entertainment capabilities that meets today’s requirements, while growing with our customers’ budgets and passenger expectations in the future. We provide passengers an at-home connectivity and entertainment experience anywhere they are, leveraging broadband Internet optimized for remote work with unique, cost-effective content for both cabin systems and wireless devices. We make connectivity and content work together in synchrony.

In short, we’re positioned to be nimble, innovative and flexible, in a world that now demands it.

Entertaining the Future

As the largest provider of airline inflight entertainment (IFE) services, we serve the world’s premium airlines that are defined by their passenger experiences. We recognize our clients need content for seatback and wireless systems consistent with their unique brands, passenger demographics, and financial expectations.

Earlier this year, we transitioned our IFE business to a cloud-based, scalable digital platform that’s optimize for digital-native and high-definition content, at the scale required to serve five-star airlines worldwide. We’re now innovating our commercial services, turning the traditional CSP model on their head to achieve the quality and value our customers require, enabling them to meet passengers’ evolving preferences in the post-Covid environment. We’ve increased our in-house distribution capabilities to select titles for our platform that reflect changing passenger preferences, partner with up-and-coming content producers, and deploying new analytics capabilities to help airlines focus their IFE spend.  We know passengers are hungry for fresh content. It’s not enough to have Hollywood blockbusters on board – especially when serving leisure passengers who subscribe to digital subscription platforms.

With end-to-end digital capabilities, we can ingest and distribute content faster and to more passengers than our competitors. Armed with unique technology, analytics and global scale, we have forged deeper relationships with studios, delivering relevant and customized content packages on brand and on budget for the world’s leading airlines. As a recent example, we partnered with Academy Award-winning studio A24 to obtain exclusive worldwide inflight distribution rights for critically acclaimed independent films ‘Minari’ and ‘First Cow.’ It’s an important and impactful first step to diversify beyond mainstream media and seek out new and unique movies, TV shows, games and audio that delight passengers.

Staying Connected

In the air or at sea, passengers and guests now depend on robust connectivity that’s consistent and reliable wherever they travel. The boundaries between home and office have permanently blurred; work-from-home expectations now also become work-from-air and work-from-sea. As guest expectations increase, so too do the capabilities of connectivity systems. Our customers need reliability and performance today, while retaining the flexibility to introduce new technologies in the future.

The pace of innovation within connectivity provides exciting potential for our sector. We will be leaders in that innovation. Unlike our competitors, we don’t have the financial incentive to lock our customers into dated technologies or legacy infrastructure commitments. Post-emergence, we are shaping our future around innovative new satellite and ground network technologies. We are the only independent connectivity provider with this flexibility, and religious believers in open-architecture systems. Any one technology is unlikely to deliver our performance requirements – for example, low-earth orbit (LEO) constellations create buzz but are unlikely alone to provide the service consistency and throughput required for mission-critical applications. We believe in a hybrid future where LEO, GEO and terrestrial network technologies work together to deliver a step-change in economics and performance for our customers. Our mission is to integrate these systems and deliver seamless and scalable Internet connectivity to our clients’ passengers and guests.

A Bright Future

With decades of experience in both entertainment and connectivity for mobility sectors, we understand the uniqueness of airline, cruise, and mission-critical maritime, energy and government applications. We’re a service company at heart – we help our customers match technologies and content to their guest experience objectives, and we recognize that the best answers today aren’t necessarily the same tomorrow. Now is our time to introduce ideas and solutions that help our customers recover post-Covid.  We’re innovators in a world that needs new thoughts, new technologies, and new solutions, and we’re ready for the future.

I’d like to thank you for your continuous support and trust, and I look forward to working together to innovate, evolve and deliver.