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Southwest inks deal with DirecTV for live in-flight television

Streamers can use their phones, tablets or computers to watch more than a dozen live channels via the DirecTV app on Southwest Airlines flights.

Streamers can use their phones, tablets or computers to watch more than a dozen live channels via the DirecTV app on Southwest Airlines flights.

A passenger uses a tablet to watch a live feed of ABC, powered by DirecTV, on a Southwest flight. (Courtesy image)
A passenger uses a tablet to watch a live feed of ABC, powered by DirecTV, on a Southwest flight. (Courtesy image)

Passengers on most Southwest Airlines flights can now stream dozens of live television channels thanks to a new partnership with DirecTV.

Customers on Southwest’s Boeing 737 fleet equipped with on-board Internet from Viasat will be able to watch 14 live channels from DirecTV. The channels will be instantly available to passengers who purchase Southwest’s on-board WiFi, which costs $8 and connects them to satellite-powered broadband Internet for the duration of their domestic flight.

Some of the channels available on Viasat-connected Southwest flights include:

  • ABC (WABC-TV, or local ABC station)
  • CBS (WCBS-TV, or local CBS station)
  • CNBC
  • CNN
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • Fox (WNYW, or local Fox station)
  • Fox News Channel
  • Golf Channel (seasonal)
  • HGTV
  • NBC (WNBC, or local NBC station)
  • NFL Network (seasonal)
  • TBS
  • USA Network

The perk is even better for customers of DirecTV’s satellite or streaming product, who can unlock every channel in their package — including broadcast channels, general entertainment, news and sports — when they purchase Southwest’s $8 Internet plan and log in with their DirecTV username and password.

The easiest way for passengers to unlock more channels is to sign up for the “Entertainment” package of DirecTV Stream, which costs $75 a month (or $65 a month for three months with this link) and includes access to local broadcast channels from ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS; general entertainment networks like Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, TBS and TNT; sports from ESPN and Fox Sports 1; and news channels like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Newsmax. There are three other packages to choose from, each with different networks, and premium movie networks like HBO, Cinemax and Starz are also available.

DirecTV channels will be available to Southwest passengers on their personal phones, tablets or laptops from takeoff to landing, a spokesperson for the pay TV company told The Desk.

Southwest is the latest low-cost airliner to add live TV from DirecTV in recent years. More than a decade ago, JetBlue began offering a curated sample of DirecTV satellite channels to passengers in flight, with its reconfigured Airbus A320 and A321 fleet offering more than 100 live TV channels.

The deal with Southwest gives DirecTV a reach of more than 1,600 passenger planes across five major commercial airliners.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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