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Southwest Offers Live TV on Select Aircraft

Southwest Airlines becomes the latest airline to bring live television to passengers.

Southwest Airlines planes
Getty Images
Southwest Airlines planes

Beginning with five aircraft and eventually expanding to 20 by mid-July, Southwest will offer the option to purchase live TV programming consisting of seven sports and news channels. The satellite-based service, provided by Row 44 , will be available to passengers on their Wi-Fi enabled mobile devices, including tablets, laptops and smartphones.

There is no way to know in advance if you'll be on an aircraft with the service. Flight attendants will notify passengers at the beginning of a flight if live programming is available, according to the press release .

Southwest will test different price points from $3 to $8 per flight during the trial period.

The live TV option will be offered as a separate, additional charge from the existing Wi-Fi Internet service found on many of Southwest's flights. Row 44 is dedicating a separate portion of its satellite bandwidth for the TV service to avoid slowing those surfing the Internet. If the trial is successful, Southwest plans to expand the service to its more than 250 Wi-Fi enabled aircraft by the end of the year.

The TV channels offered are as follows:

  • NBC Sports
  • MLB live games from MLB.com
  • NFL Network
  • MSNBC
  • Fox News
  • Fox Business News
  • Other airlines offering live TV — with a greater selection of programming — include JetBlue , United Airlines and Virgin America .

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