Southwest previews live TV on five aircraft

Southwest Airlines, in conjunction with Row 44, is to offer passengers a glimpse of wireless inflight entertainment with a preview of live TV on five of its aircraft, with plans to expand to 20 aircraft by mid-July.

Customers on these select aircraft 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," commented Dave Ridley, Southwest Airlines chief marketing officer and SVP marketing and revenue management. "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."

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 smartphones and so on). 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 prices 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.

The seven live TV channels on these five aircraft will be NBC Sports, NFL Network, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business News and MLB (Major League Baseball) live games from

The Row 44 system not only supports this new feature, but it 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 Southwest aircraft by the end of the year.

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