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YouTube takes to the skies, bringing shows to Virgin America flights

YouTube has scored a deal with California-based airline Virgin America to bring original programming from five of its partners to passengers flying within the US and Mexico.

The service will kick off in the next couple of weeks, giving passengers even more choice when it comes to seat-back entertainment. The YouTube channels on offer include: 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. New series and shows will be added to the service every two months.

“Bringing YouTube aboard Virgin America is part of a larger effort to bring you more of the videos you love, at heights you’ve never seen them before,” YouTube marketing manager Kate Berland said in a blog post announcing the news, adding, “Sample these great series on your flight, and then visit YouTube to enjoy the full seasons.” And that’s precisely the motivation for YouTube getting its content into passenger planes – it’ll be hoping that promoting its original programming in this way will win over more fans, persuading them to catch up with the latest episodes of shows once they get their feet back on the ground.

YouTube has invested heavily in original programming in the last year in an effort to boost audience numbers and attract big-name advertisers, so you’d certainly expect it to do be doing everything it can to drive traffic towards it.

How effective YouTube’s strategy will be, however, remains to be seen. Its shows will be battling for attention alongside plenty of other entertainment on the seat-back-screens, while plenty of passengers will be immersed in their own smartphone and tablet content, whether or not it’s coming via Virgin America’s on-board Wi-Fi service. If the move does prove successful in pushing more traffic to its original content over the long-term, we can expect to see YouTube striking deals with more airlines in the future.

For Virgin America, the deal gives it the chance to offer even more content to passengers via its in-flight entertainment system.

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