Live news and sports is now flying on Air Canada. The carrier is adding six channels of Canadian television, in English and French, to its inflight entertainment package. More than 40 planes already have the service active.
Sports fans flying with us can enjoy the exhilaration of watching regular season, playoff and championship games in real time, while business news junkies will appreciate remaining connected to market trends and current events, right from their seat. As we continue elevating the customer experience, we look forward to expanding Live TV to more flights, and bring even more leading content and features in 2023.– John Moody, Senior Director – Product Design
Currently 40 Boeing 777, Boeing 787, Airbus A330 and Airbus A220 aircraft are Live TV-enabled. Air Canada expects 50% of domestic flights operated by mainline aircraft to offer Live TV by the second of quarter 2023.
The six channels are split between three sports and three news offerings:
- TSN, TSN 2 and RDS deliver comprehensive live sports coverage for marquee sports events including soccer, hockey, basketball, football, baseball, golf, professional motor racing, and more
- CTV News Channel delivers breaking news from communities across Canada and around the world as the country’s 24-hour all-news network
- LCN, Quebec’s all-news station delivers news and rich programming from morning to night
- BNN Bloomberg as Canada’s definitive source for business news, delivers breaking finance updates and live market coverage
It is particularly notable that the channels chosen offer sports and news, not general entertainment content. In mid-2020 many airlines cut their live television subscriptions as passenger counts dropped and live sporting events were suspended. Passengers can easily bring their own entertainment on board, but live events remain a unique
Content will be served on the Panasonic Avionics-powered in-seat entertainment screens. The channels will stream to the planes across the Intelsat 2Ku satellite network.
The move is the latest in a string of actions by Air Canada to boost its inflight entertainment and connectivity offerings. Speaking at the World Aviation Festival in Amsterdam last month Director of IFEC Product and Analytics Norman Haughton explained a vision of streaming content fully integrated into the carrier’s fleet-wide IFE deployment.
Read more: Pairing, casting and streaming: The next generation of inflight entertainment emerges
Haughton is clear that the airline very much plays a role in this new inflight entertainment paradigm, but it is a passive position. He wants to be the middle-man, coordinating the blend of content rights and connectivity. He describes it as “providing the fuel” for the experience (including JET-A). And partnerships with streaming content providers will play an outsized role:
Air Canada invested heavily in seat-back entertainment, even on our single-aisle fleet. And now we’ve gone down the road of high speed Wi-Fi. Imagine what happens when those two roads intersect. People want to consume content the way they do on the ground. We can bring in partners that add extra value. Imagine where internet and seat-back merge, and then bringing partners on board to be the gateway of that intersection, to be traffic managers and to ensure that the experience we are delivering at that intersection meets or exceeds what our customers would expect on the ground.
Enabling live television on board is the first iteration of that new experience. Connecting passenger content to the in-seat screens is likely not too far behind.
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