In July 2021, Singapore Airlines announced a trial of inflight Live TV service, bringing news and sports to passengers in real-time. Imagine watching Rafael Nadal making tennis history from 30,000 feet in the sky, hopefully with a glass of champagne in hand…
This trial was initially confined to Singapore Airlines’ seven A350-900ULR aircraft, which ply the non-stop ultra-long-haul routes between Singapore and the USA. While I spotted the feature on some long-haul A350-900s (such as my flight from Singapore to Munich back in September 2021), it was a software-only upgrade; the service had yet to be activated.
But just last week I was flying on 9V-SMV (another long-haul A350-900) from Bangkok to Singapore. On a whim, I tried the Live TV service in KrisWorld, and to my surprise, it worked!
I managed to catch the women’s final of the Australian Open 2022 (nowhere as dramatic as the Nadal-Medvedev stonker, I can tell you that).
Following the flight, I dropped Singapore Airlines an email asking if the trial had been expanded, and received the following response:
Singapore Airlines customers can now enjoy our Live TV service onboard our A350 Long-Haul aircraft, as well as our A350 Ultra Long Range aircraft. We will share plans for a broader rollout, if any, at the appropriate time.
This means that passengers can now enjoy Live TV across all 28 long-haul configured A350-900s, bringing the total number of SIA aircraft with this service to 35.
Passengers flying on SIA aircraft with Live TV service can choose from the following four channels:
- BBC World News
- Sport 24
What’s really catching my attention is Sport 24, which holds the 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. Imagine witnessing these events live from your seat.
|🎾 Sport 24 Events|
Which A350-900s offer this service?
Singapore Airlines has 58 A350-900 aircraft in its fleet at the time of writing, split into three different configurations:
|A350-900 Regional||A350-900 Long-Haul||A350-900 ULR|
|Number in Fleet||23||28||7|
There are several ways to tell if your A350-900 has Live TV service:
- If you see an A350-900 on a European or USA route, it must have Live TV
- Look at the Business Class seat map. If you see seats with “wings” like the ones on the left below, you’re on a A350-900 Regional with no Live TV. If you see rectangular seats like the ones on the right below, you’re on a A350-900 Long-Haul or A350-900 ULR with Live TV
- If the plane has no Economy Class cabin, you’re on a A350-900 ULR with Live TV
- If the plane has no Premium Economy cabin, you’re on a A350-900 Regional with no Live TV
|✈️ SIA A350-900 ULR Fleet|
|✈️ SIA A350-900 (Long-Haul) Fleet|
Will Live TV come to other aircraft?
Singapore Airlines has not yet announced whether it plans to expand the Live TV service beyond the A350-900 fleet, but 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)
Singapore Airlines has expanded its Live TV service to all 28 A350-900 Long-Haul aircraft, providing additional entertainment options for passengers on these flights. They’re certainly not the first to do this- other airlines have had this for years now- but I suppose it’s better late than never.
Have you tried Live TV on an SIA flight before?