Southwest Previews Live TV In-Flight

Southwest Airlines to Preview Live Satellite TV In-Flight via Row 44 | FlyersPulse Airline News and Deals

Will Southwest Adopt Live TV fleet-wide?

Looking for some in-flight entertainment? Southwest is working with Row 44 to provide more than WiFi Internet Access at cruising altitude, but live satellite television.

To start with, Southwest will install Live TV on five of their Boeing 737’s with plans to expand to 20 airliners by the middle of July. However, instead of installing seatback TV’s, customers on these aircraft will be able to purchase Live TV and view it on personal, WiFi equipped devices such as the iPad. Seven sports and news channels will be available with the initial channel lineup.

Dave Ridley, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer and Sr. Vice President Marketing and Revenue Management, said, “We are excited to give our Customers new options for inflight entertainment.” Ridley continues, “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.”

Over at Row 44, John LaValle, Chief Executive Officer, said, “Southwest continues to demonstrate bold leadership within the airline industry, taking innovative steps to improve the travel experience for their Customers.” LaValle added, “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.”

Bring Your Own Device or Seatback TV?

Live, Satellite TV is a product many consumers seek on flights – airlines including Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and Frontier, provide satellite TV to their passengers via seatback TV units. This begs the question, will consumers want to use their own devices — or would they prefer seatback TV units?

Channel Lineup and Fees on Live TV WiFi Planes

Should you be lucky enough to board one of these flights, Flight Attendants will notify the Southwest Customers who are onboard a TV-enabled WiFi aircraft.

If you’re interested in using the TV service, a preview period will be available by logging in to Row 44’s WiFi portal with your personal WiFi equipped device. Southwest has determined Live TV will be offered as a separate product, as such, passengers do not have to purchase WiFi to purchase live TV.

Southwest is currently looking at different price points between $3 and $8 through the trial period.

The seven live television channels provided at cruising altitude will include:

  • NBC Sports
  • MLB live games from
  • NFL Network
  • CNBC
  • Fox News
  • Fox Business News

Customers concerned that streaming IPTV will eat into bandwidth can relax, as Row 44 created this product with live IP Television in mind. Passengers watching live TV will be using a separate portion of the bandwidth specifically dedicated for IPTV use.

However, both Live TV and WiFi usage will be monitored to determine if they play together without fighting. If it’s a winner for Southwest, the airline will roll Live TV out on all WiFi-enabled planes by the end of the year.

Unlike other carriers that use ground based cellular networks for WiFi, Southwest Airlines offers the world’s largest satellite-based WiFi fleet with more than 250 connected aircraft. The airline plans to equip all Boeing 737-700s and 737-800s, or roughly 70% of its fleet by mid-2013.

Would you prefer to use your own personal device (and battery power) for Live Television, or would you rather watch a seatback TV? Open For Discussion

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2 Responses


Bring your own device?

Sorry, if I bring my device, I watch my own content. If you want to provide Satellite TV, do so with personal television units at the seat.

Why should I have to use my resources, battery power, and still pay for the satellite TV? Fox News, the GOP channel?? How about CNN?


I think the bring your own device television has a chance at working. You would need a tablet like an iPad or laptop – I suppose for some an iPhone or iPod touch with the smaller screens would suffice. If you want to see that game in real time or watch a certain program, you will be tempted to use it – even if it works with the bring your own device approach.

AT&T has proven IPTV works well with their U-Verse service. Copper VDSL the last mile and Ethernet to wireless access point (WAP) to wireless-n and the wireless receivers pickup the signal well and communicate with the DVR, etc. I would hope Row 44 uses two WiFi channels (keep in mind 3 channel overlap) and runs Internet off of say channel 1 and TV off of channel 4. Any other services in 2.4ghz spectrum should then go to 7.

I don’t see 5ghz spectrum being used as it doesn’t support 802.11g and some wifi devices don’t seem to pick up wireless n on 5 ghz – at least by default.

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