Although it could still be a while before we set foot on a Singapore Airlines plane again, there may be a cool new feature awaiting you on your next flight.
Singapore Airlines has announced a trial of live TV onboard its A350-900 ULR aircraft, bringing news and sports to passengers in real-time. If successful, this could eventually be rolled out to more aircraft types across its fleet.
Singapore Airlines live TV service
Passengers flying on any of Singapore Airlines’ seven A350-900 ULR aircraft will be able to choose from four live TV channels: BBC World News, CNN, CNBC and Sport 24.
|✈️ SIA A350-900 ULR Fleet|
These aircraft are currently plying the non-stop routes from Singapore to New York (SQ23/24) and San Francisco (SQ33/34).
While they also used to serve Los Angeles before the pandemic, the two non-stop flights (SQ11/12 and SQ37/38) are now being flown by a B777-300ER and a regular A350-900. Presumably, the lower passenger loads at the moment make such flights possible.
News is great and all, but what I’m particularly looking forward to is the sports channel. Sport 24 has broadcast rights for major sporting events like the US Open and Wimbledon tennis championships, the English Premier League and UEFA Champions League, NBA, PGA Golf Tour and the Olympics. Heck, they even have handegg for the ‘Muricans.
|🎾 Sport 24 Events|
If nothing else, I can watch Arsenal play out another season in the illustrious Europa League.
Will live TV come to the rest of the Singapore Airlines fleet?
Singapore Airlines is positioning this as a trial, but I really hope that live TV becomes a permanent feature across the fleet.
It’s certainly commercially possible. While Panasonic Avionics owns all international inflight rights to the Sport 24 channel and Singapore Airlines uses a mixture of Panasonic and Thales IFE equipment, Panasonic has mentioned that it’s open to working with other providers.
Green tells Runway Girl Network that Panasonic is talking to all the usual players in IFC (inflight connectivity), effectively anyone who wants live sports as part of their offering, which is a “huge and growing market”.
Panasonic expects to forge relationships with aero ISPs after ensuring they have the right tech and security to protect the sports streams. But the company is not opposed to working with rivals in the embedded IFE space, with Green noting of course that Panasonic has a number of airline customers with a mix of IFE and IFC providers.
Once agreements are reached and Panasonic hands over the streams to the IFC providers, in theory those streams are available for whatever IFE hardware is on board, says Green.
Indeed, Panasonic recently secured one such agreement bringing Sport 24 to JetBlue’s A321LR aircraft, which are fitted with Thales AVANT monitors and Viasat’s inflight connectivity network. So there’s no reason why that couldn’t happen for Singapore Airlines, and in any case, the vast majority of SIA’s fleet uses Panasonic Avionics hardware anyway.
|✈️ Singapore Airlines Widebody Fleet|
(Long-haul, Ultra long range)
With the Hollywood release cycle disrupted by COVID-19 and the general desire to stay connected with the latest happenings, live TV could snatch some of the budget that airlines traditionally set aside for movies. Passengers can always bring their own movies onboard, but they’re reliant on the airline for live broadcasts.
While Singapore Airlines is a pioneer in many areas, it’s notably lagged behind in live TV adoption. Many other airlines like Emirates and Etihad have been offering live sports and news for some time now.
Nonetheless, the introduction of live TV is yet another milestone in the evolution of Singapore Airlines’ inflight entertainment. For a riveting read on how we went from jackpots and live bands to everyone staring at screens, check out my post below.
Are you looking forward to live TV on your next SIA flight?