Millions more passengers could soon see expanded access to live sporting events on their in-flight entertainment screens. Under a renewed and expanded deal announced earlier this month Panasonic Avionics Corporation (PAC) will increase its distribution of IMG’s Sport 24 network to include aircraft outside of its direct service portfolio.
Per the terms of the agreement Panasonic Avionics can exclusively provide IMG’s Sport 24 and Sport 24 Extra channels to any airline, regardless of the in-flight entertainment system or connectivity network in use.
This latest agreement with Panasonic will bring our Sport 24 broadcast to millions more passengers across more global airlines in the years ahead. This new deal also conveys the confidence both parties have in the recovery of the airline industry post the pandemic, especially now that vaccines are being rolled out around the world.– Richard Wise, SVP, Content and Channels, IMG Media
Sports and beyond
Live sporting events remain the driving force behind passenger demand for live television content in flight. As Dominic Green, PAC’s Senior Director for Digital Product Management, explains, “Sports is the jewel in the crown; it is what everyone wants to have or, really, has to have.”
COVID restrictions slashed airline spending but also the number of live sporting events on the air. Without that compelling live content a number of airlines suspended their contracts with PAC for live television content. But the sports slowly returned, and so are the airlines. Green notes that Etihad and Turkish Airlines as two of the bigger names to restore that content. He also sees “huge pent up demand for people to view live sports. And if you can’t view it in person then, particularly if you’re traveling, you want to watch it live.”
Live news is also a draw. PAC says demand via digital platforms as well as native broadcast channels is up over the past year. A limited number of other red carpet-type events also attract the live viewership numbers to justify streaming them to aircraft. But the return of sports is driving the company’s optimism around a return of live TV on board. These live or near live content options represent a “huge opportunity” for PAC to expand its offerings according to Green.
And, thanks to the new agreement with IMG, that optimism can now extend to a much broader array of airlines.
Delivering on a long-promised transition
The new offering delivers on a transition for Panasonic Avionics that began in August 2017 with the appointment of Dave Bartlett as the company’s CTO. Bartlett led a drive to develop the company’s digital services portfolio, focusing on platform-agnostic solutions rather than the PAC-specific implementations. That effort delivered in the way of tangible results in the intervening years. But this IMG/Sport 24 deal is a major step forward on that front.
In an exclusive conversation with PaxEx.Aero Green explained how the new offering fits into that portfolio:
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A full transcript of the exclusive conversation with Dominic Green is available for PaxEx Premium subscribers.
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