Live television is back on American Airlines. Driving the return – much as it drove the disappearance last year – is demand for live sports on board.
American works with innovative partners to provide consumers with content that reflects our customers and their passion points, and we know being able to watch live sports is really exciting for many travelers.– Clarissa Sebastian, Managing Director of Premium Customer Experience and Onboard Products
The carrier will relaunch TV across its single-aisle, domestic fleet this week, more than a year after the product was shelved amidst COVID-induced cost-cutting.
Channels available to passengers focus heavily on live news and sports:
- NFL Network
- ESPN + ESPN2
- FOX NEWS
The new channel selection drops Bravo, Disney, and Telemundo from the prior iteration of in-flight television selections. They are replaced by ESPN2, Fox News, and ABC.
An American spokesperson further confirms that the TV feeds are provided by DISH for aircraft with the Intelsat 2Ku system on board and by DirectTV for Viasat-equipped planes. Under the prior arrangement DISH provided the feed for the full fleet.
Live sports drive demand
While some survey results suggest live news as compelling content to passengers, sports truly deliver the eyeballs.
That demand profile was by American Airlines‘ Erwan Perhirin in early 2019, describing 50% take rates for the Sport24 live television channel during the 2018 World Cup matches. When Viasat and FuboTV launched their streaming content offering last year live sports sat at the center of the value proposition.
This has long been the case. In 2014 PAC reported that 90% of viewing hours on its service consumed the Sport24 channel.
When the live sports disappeared, so did demand and a desire for airlines to pay for the service. But sports returned, and passengers are mostly back, at least for the domestic routes. And so now the live television option returns as well.
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