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Virgin Blue Joins Forces With Foxtel, Austar For “Live2air”

04/11/2004

A New Era For Australian In-Flight Entertainment

4 November 2004: Australia’s award winning low fare airline Virgin Blue has just got even better. The carrier has joined forces with Australia’s leading subscription television providers FOXTEL and AUSTAR and “LiveTV” of the United States, to introduce an exciting new generation of “LIVE” satellite TV in-flight entertainment.


Over a million people fly Virgin Blue each month and from the comfort of their own seat, they will be able to watch live television news and premium sporting events at 40,000 feet, along with a selection of the best comedy, lifestyle, children’s, music, documentaries and general entertainment channels provided by FOXTEL and AUSTAR.


These new services will be broadcast live via satellite to the aircraft and displayed on individual, back-of-seat screens that will be available to all Guests.


Called “Live2Air”, the services will offer the choice of 24 FOXTEL and AUSTAR channels, including Sky News Australia, CNN, THE COMEDY CHANNEL, FOX SPORTS 1 and 2 and Nickelodeon, that will cost no more than $5 for unlimited use during the entire flight.


Virgin Blue has worked with the US technology provider “LiveTV” for more than a year so as to be the first airline outside North America to harness the innovation, which will be delivered under exclusive licence with Virgin Blue.


Virgin Blue, FOXTEL and AUSTAR will begin phasing in the new technology by mid next year subject to regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.


In the meantime the service will be demonstrated in Virgin Blue airport lounges to allow Blue Room visitors a glimpse into the future of in-flight entertainment.


Virgin Blue Chief Executive Brett Godfrey said,”We simply couldn’t wait for the future; “Live2Air” is a generational leap forward in on-board entertainment. When we launched the airline over four years ago, it was our intent to offer this product but the technology literally wasn’t in orbit over Australia to offer real-time broadcasts. Now that the technology and satellite coverage is available from FOXTEL and AUSTAR we are excited to be the first and only airline in the Southern Hemisphere to take in-flight entertainment to a whole new level.”


“This LIVE seatback TV initiative will position Virgin Blue as the market leader for in-flight entertainment and we will continue to ensure we provide our Guests with more options to maximise their flying pleasure.”


This exciting new technology will be implemented so as not to impact Virgin Blue’s low cost base and its ability to remain Australia’s high quality low fare leader.


Brett Godfrey added, “Being pay per use, this innovation is in line with our long term strategy of providing user-pays options to improve our already award winning service without compromising our bottom line. Like our pioneering peers, Jetblue and Westjet, who have introduced this technology in North America, we expect ”Live2Air” to actually enhance yield by attracting new Guests who want to see the news as it happens and appreciate being entertained with their choice of content in the air.”


FOXTEL Chief Executive Kim Williams said that FOXTEL was delighted to bring the expanded choice and exclusive content it offers television viewers at home to travellers on Virgin Blue.


“Watching live sport, catching the breaking news or the stock market close as you fly will be a totally new and unique experience in Australia,” Mr Williams said.


“FOXTEL is at the forefront of innovation in television and this is an important and very exciting development for us, our subscription television colleagues, and most particularly consumers.”


CEO of AUSTAR John Porter said “Just as AUSTAR is about innovation, value and choice, this new Virgin Blue venture will give Australians access to quality programming whether they’re at home or in the sky.”


“Whether you are in regional, rural or metropolitan Australia, you can benefit from this exciting new technological advance,” Mr Porter said.


Busy business travellers will be able to catch up on news of the day on Sky News Australia or CNN live instead of pre-recorded news, or chill out with some music videos or a comedy, while Guests on longer flights will be able to fit in a documentary or a classic movie or TV series.


Flying with children will also become an easier experience for parents with the option of a range of children’s channels to entertain them.


Sports fans will be able to watch their favourite team live in action on the range of sport channels while in the air.


The full suite of channels that will be available on “Live2Air” is:
 

Business/News

Entertainment/Music

Sports

Sky News Australia
FOX News
CNN

 

Children/Educational 
Nickelodeon
Nick Jr.
Boomerang
How To Channel

THE COMEDY CHANNEL
The History Channel
UKTV
FOX Classics
MAX
The LifeStyle Channel
Discovery Travel & Adventure Channel 
Animal Planet
LifeStyle FOOD
FOX8
Channel [V]
Club [V]
Arena TV
FOX SPORTS 1
FOX SPORTS 2
FOX Footy Channel
FUEL


Award winning airline Virgin Blue and sister carrier Pacific Blue currently operate a fleet of 49 modern Boeing 737 aircraft flying to 21 destinations across metropolitan and regional Australia, as well as four International destinations taking in New Zealand, Vanuatu and Fiji. For Virgin Blue bookings log on to www.virginblue.com.au or call 13 6789. For Pacific Blue bookings log on to www.flypacificblue.com or call 13 1645 from Australia or 0800 670 000 from New Zealand.

FOXTEL is Australia's leading subscription television provider and is connected to more than 1.1 million homes on cable and satellite through retail and wholesale distribution. FOXTEL is owned by Telstra Corporation Ltd (50%), The News Corporation Ltd (25%), and Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (25%). FOXTEL launched its new digital cable and satellite service in March 2004.

Austar United Communications (AUSTAR)
www.austarunited.com.au
AUSTAR (Australian Stock Exchange “AUN”) is a leading provider of subscription television services in Australia, providing principally satellite delivered services to regional and rural Australia. AUSTAR also offers mobile telephone and internet services. AUSTAR’s 50% owned joint venture, XYZnetworks, is a significant program provider in the Australian market and owns and/or distributes Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Discovery, Channel [V], Club [V], MAX, Arena, The Lifestyle Channel, Lifestyle Food., CountryMusic Channel and The Weather Channel to over 1.2 million subscribers. In addition, AUSTAR was the first company in Australia to launch digital interactive television.