Looking for more live streaming video content in the skies? FuboTV offers more than 100 channels on its platform and they soon could be available on board aircraft equipped with the Viasat inflight wifi connectivity system. The two companies announced a video streaming distribution and technology partnership today that advances how content can be delivered and consumed in-flight.
Streaming live television is complex, and fuboTV prides itself on our internally-built tech stack that allows us to bring a stable experience to our subscribers. That’s why it was critical for us to work with a proven technology partner like Viasat to enable fuboTV to be one of the first live streaming services to expand distribution to the U.S. aviation market.– Cristina Arango, director of strategic partnerships, fuboTV
Airlines can sign up to carry the fuboTV content on their Viasat-equipped aircraft. Passengers on board will then receive complimentary access to the fubo Sports Network channel as a sampler of what is available in the skies. Passengers with a fuboTV account will have full access to all the channels in their subscription. Passengers who are not yet members can sign up in the sky for a free 7-day trial and stream from the 100+ channels available in the fubo library, including a significant range of live television options and multiple major sports networks.
This is not the first time Viasat has struck a distribution partnership deal for streaming content across its Ka-band satellite network. Prior examples include Amazon Prime Video with JetBlue and Apple Music with American Airlines. The fuboTV deal is different, however, in that it is airline-agnostic.
Every carrier with the hardware on board has access to the option if they want it. The represents not only the scale that the two companies can support with available capacity, but a shift the business model for getting the service into the sky. Viasat’s Grant Markhart oversees the company’s content strategic partnerships and explains that this is a long term project focused on changing the way airlines see the potential of the IFC offerings:
We’ve been working together for a year or two coming up with a strategy on how we could leverage our technology to offer passengers and airlines the ability to watch fuboTV content in flight and which continues to demonstrate our leadership in connectivity and entertainment. We want to demonstrate to the airlines that there are new models that are out there for them to offer services to passengers beyond just paid internet.
Both Viasat and fuboTV are keen to get more live content to passengers in the sky. As Markhart notes, “You can’t fake live, and what people care about is live. You can’t cache live sports. So for us using sports as the freebie is a great way to demonstrate to airlines and passengers that what we’re delivering is truly differentiated.”
The companies are not alone in offering live sports through a satellite data connection. Panasonic Avionics includes Sport24 as one of its inflight channels for passengers. But that is a single channel with curated content, similar to the fubo Sports Network feed that comes free with the new service. Viasat and fuboTV make dozens more live sports channels available beyond that one, assuming you’re a subscriber. That’s a major difference.
Taking advantage of new technologies
The partnership takes advantage of standards defined by the Streaming Video Alliance and is the first to bring that technology into connected aircraft. The companies leverage the open caching specifications from the Alliance and multicast techniques to deliver the OTT and VOD content in a more bandwidth-efficient manner, without compromising on image quality.
Those advanced standards allow fuboTV to extend its proprietary tech stack optimization to the skies, delivering “higher bit rates, faster start times and an overall better passenger experience experience” according to Cristina Arango, the company’s director of strategic partnerships.
Arango also says that choosing Viasat was a critical component in delivering the company’s offering in the skies. “We know that the internet quality has to be better, has to be stable. We feel confident that we can display our product in the way that we want to display it with Viasat internet. This is why we’re so excited to bring our products to 35,000 feet with a provider that is able to showcase our product in its best form.”