How many times have you discovered truly remarkable content at 30,000 feet? Maybe it was a newly released album that made you dance in your seat, an indie film that left you in tears, or a documentary that made you want to explore something new?
Most airline passengers love to watch a good blockbuster or catch up on a hit TV series in-flight, but just as many also enjoy digging through the depths of an airline’s content platform to find something new, something that isn’t already on the streaming services they enjoy at home. That’s why we love working with people like Terry Steiner.
Terry is President and founder of Terry Steiner International Inc. (TSI), a leading distributor of feature films, documentaries, TV programming, digital media and podcasts to the inflight market. Prior to founding TSI, Terry headed the Orion Pictures Non-Theatrical division and before joining Orion, Terry was Media Director at MGM/UA and Paramount Pictures.
In the following Q&A with Terry, we discuss why – after all these years – she still gets her kicks bringing quality, original content to the world’s travellers.
West Entertainment: Tell us about yourself and Terry Steiner International
Terry Steiner: What can I say about myself? I started Terry Steiner International 27 years ago, after having been the in-house airline distributor for Orion Pictures. Over the course of time I’ve built the company to be a leading content provider to the airlines. One of the most interesting things about our company is the wide variety and the volume that we have, unlike any studio or any independent film distributor. We are a conglomeration of all of the above. Be it major films from the big studios or independent films, classics, documentaries, digital media and podcasts we cover the entirety of what’s out there. We release more films than any other company…. and that’s not a competition, but what’s important is we are releasing a truly encompassing variety of films every single month.
West Entertainment: Why do you think the variety is so important? Why didn’t you focus on a specific type of content or genre to distribute?
Terry Steiner: It’s exciting to represent a lot of different films, especially if they’re all high-quality films and content. We like the variety, and we thrive on it. What we do best is manage a lot of films, but we always take care to program them in such a way that each gets a chance to shine.
West Entertainment: Where does a distributor like TSI sit in the content supply chain?
Terry Steiner: We’re the broker between the film production companies and the airlines. We visit all the leading film festivals and content markets to meet content creators and help them bring their projects to the airline market. Because of our reputation, we now have people who actually come to us as soon as they have a film (it might not even be finished yet) and they say: “Here’s what we have, can you represent this in the inflight market?”
And for the most part we then we say: “Yes! Of course!”
West Entertainment: Content supply chains are shifting to adopt new sourcing models and processes. Do you worry about this?
Terry Steiner: Well that’s a good question. There are a lot of new ways to get content from its source to the audience and some are really great. Other models make it very easy to tick a box and receive a catalogue of content. Sadly, such models in our industry are precluding certain products, not only from independent distributors like us, but other major film studios. This is what they have decided to do, and this is their path. But at the end of the day, content curation for IFE is a fine art, and a good content offering will reflect brand values, respect regional tastes, will be mindful of current affairs and have something for every passenger.
Every airline has its own personality and it’s up to them to define how they want that personality to translate through their IFE. In my opinion, it’s best to start with the broadest assortment of content possible, from the widest variety of sources. That’s how you really delight your passengers and keep them happy.
West Entertainment: Podcasts are getting really popular again, aren’t they?
Terry Steiner: YES! We’ve had our fingers on the podcast pulse since 2018, and they are gaining major traction right now. I just love listening to podcasts, and I’m thrilled to see the podcast genre getting stronger in the airline market. We have loads available at TSI and there’s more and more coming to market all the time.
West Entertainment: What’s your favourite thing about being a film distributor in the airline business?
Terry Steiner: I’ve been very fortunate to make so many long-lasting friendships in this business. The relationships that I’ve developed with content creators, airlines, cruise people and all the folks between are all so special. They’ve taught me a lot about what matters on both sides of the content equation. It’s also very rewarding to have a successful company after all these years and to have ridden this storm of COVID. We’re poised to come out of this disaster even stronger than before.
West Entertainment: Thanks Terry! We really enjoy working with TSI and helping deliver all your fantastic content to airlines!
Terry Steiner: Ditto! xx
Photo by Nicolas Venturelli and originally published in APEX Experience Magazines