Deal Brings Live TV to Wired Southwest Airlines Passengers

Global Eagle Entertainment’s Row 44 is installing a system that will offer Dish network and on-demand shows.

Global Eagle Entertainment’s subsidiary Row 44 said Tuesday that it is installing a new system of in-flight entertainment called "TV Flies Free" on Southwest aircraft that enables passengers who have any device with wi-fi capability such as computers or tablets to use them to access live TV shows and about 50 on-demand shows.

The free TV service, which is provided using a TV stream from Dish Network, will be available on about 75 percent of Southwest Airline planes that already have wi-fi capability. Passengers who want to just surf the Internet will pay $8 per device per day.

Southwest will not be installing seatback TV monitors on their aircraft, so it is only for passengers who bring their own electronic devices.

The new program, which launched July 1, is immediately available in about 425 Southwest aircraft.

"We started with wi-fi and now have expanded to television,” says Southwest chief marketing officer Kevin Krone. “This new offer puts free television in the hands of our customers.”

“This trailblazing partnership is a validation of our industry-leading technology and our integrated content and connectivity platform,” says John LaValle, CEO of Global Eagle Entertainment. 

Southwest Airlines tested offering in-flight television offerings in summer  2012 during a trial of Row 44’s TV platform on some 20 of Southwest’s aircraft. That test was considered a success, so now the duo are rolling out the system more widely.

The satellite network that supports the "TV Flies Free" program, which operates across North America, is the result of a collaboration between Hughes Network Systems LLC and Row 44.