Tue, Sep 2, 2014 11:42
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Southwest Airlines Previews Live TV Inflight On Five Aircraft

Texas Business reports:  DALLAS—Southwest Airlines, in conjunction with Row 44, is taking the next step in wireless inflight entertainment with a preview of live TV on five of the carrier's aircraft, with plans to expand to 20 aircraft by mid-July.

Customers on these planes will now have the option to purchase live TV consisting of seven sports and news channels, and view on their personal devices.

“We are excited to give our customers new options for inflight entertainment,” said Southwest Airlines chief marketing officer Dave Ridley in a prepared statement. “We believe our customers will enjoy the opportunity to access live TV, in addition to wifi, using their personal devices, and we look forward to their feedback on the product.”

“Southwest continues to demonstrate bold leadership within the airline industry, taking innovative steps to improve the travel experience for their customers,” said Row 44 chief executive John LaValle in a statement. “Row 44 believes live inflight television is a highly desired element of inflight entertainment. As a trailblazer in the travel industry, Southwest is the ideal partner to launch live TV, and like Southwest, we are keen to learn from their customers' experiences with this next evolution of our platform.”

Flight attendants will notify the Southwest customers who are onboard a TV-enabled WiFi aircraft. Those interested in using the TV service during this preview period will have the opportunity to log on to the service through the WiFi portal via their personal WiFi-enabled device (tablets, laptops, WiFi-enabled smart phones).

Live TV is offered as a separate charge from WiFi, so Customers do not have to purchase WiFi to purchase live TV. The airline will evaluate different price points from $3 to $8 throughout the trial period, with instructions on how to access live TV available via a link on the Southwest Airlines WiFi portal.

Southwest Airlines will offer seven live TV channels on these five aircraft so that Customers can stay abreast of the latest news or sports scores while flying at 35,000 feet:

NBC Sports

MLB live games from MLB.com

NFL Network

CNBC

MSNBC

Fox News

Fox Business News

The Row 44 system was created with live TV in mind. Customers who are watching TV are accessing a separate portion of the bandwidth specifically dedicated for that use. Both live TV and WiFi usage will be monitored to determine if they perform together seamlessly, and if successful, live TV will be available to all WiFi-enabled planes by the end of the year.

Southwest Airlines maintains the world's largest satellite-based WiFi fleet with more than 250 connected aircraft and plans to equip the entirety of their Boeing 737-700s and 737-800s (70 percent of its total fleet) by mid-2013. Row 44 offers Southwest Airlines the ability to be flexible as the airline's needs evolve, and the satellite-based technology ensures that customers' access to WiFi and live TV will be uninterrupted during near-international flights over water.