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Virgin Blue Joins Forces With Foxtel And Austar To “Live-en” Up Australian Skies: Live In-flight TV Takes Off
28 August 2006: The days of pre-recorded and pre-censored in-flight entertainment and news bulletins are now officially over…for Virgin Blue travellers anyway. In an Australian first, Virgin Blue Guests will now be able to watch live television at 40,000 feet following the launch today of Virgin Blue’s first aircraft fully fitted out with the revolutionary “live2air” product.
The airline has been working for the past five years on the groundbreaking concept with key partners including Australia’s leading subscription television providers FOXTEL and AUSTAR and “LiveTV, LLC” of the United States.
It’s the first time the technology has been harnessed outside North America, with Virgin Blue only the fourth airline in the world to offer this revolutionary product.
live2air will be pay-per-view and will operate from the moment the aircraft pushes back to the moment it pulls up at the gate, maximising Guest viewing time. Virgin Blue will offer a special introductory rate of $6 for all flights. The every day rate will be $6 for unlimited viewing on most sectors and $9 on flights over three hours.
Once fully rolled out, every Guest will have their own personal seatback screen which can be used to access the live2air service including 24 FOXTEL and AUSTAR channels, just as they would in their own lounge room at home.
The 24 channels being provided by FOXTEL and AUSTAR for the live2air service include some of the world’s best known television brands, giving Virgin Blue Guests of all ages a wide choice of programming covering news, sport, general entertainment, documentaries, music, kids and family genres.
Virgin Blue Guests will always be up-to-date with the latest news with Sky News Australia, FOX News and CNN providing live breaking news and market wraps, while sports fans can enjoy dedicated action with FOX SPORTS News, FOX SPORTS 1, FOX SPORTS 2, FOX SPORTS 3 and FUEL TV.
Those interested in music can watch Channel [V} and MAX, while kids can check out Boomerang, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.
The introduction of Virgin Blue’s live2air required a range of technological advances. Virgin Blue’s modern Next Generation Boeing 737 aircraft underwent manufacturer, Federal Aviation Authority and Civil Aviation Safety Authority approved design modifications to allow an antenna to be incorporated into the aircraft fuselage. The live2air technology also needed to be re-designed to track and hold a unique signal from the FOXTEL/AUSTAR Australian satellite.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive Brett Godfrey said,”This is true entertainment history in the making. It is more than a seat; it’s the best seat in the house on the most technologically advanced aircraft in this part of the world. Many of us remember when black and white television was replaced by colour television and the impact that that had. Today is the day we will look back and remember when live television was introduced to Australian skies.”
He continued, “The world doesn’t stop while you are at 40,000 feet, so why should your information and entertainment? Some airlines offer one channel of pre-recorded “entertainment” in the form of old news bulletins but unlike our competitors’ “one size fits all” approach, live2air will offer 24 channels of live programming. There will be something individual for each individual and something suitable for everyone.”
FOXTEL Executive Director of Product, Content and Delivery, Patrick Delany, said: “We have 1.27 million subscribers who can’t live without their FOXTEL and now they can take it with them on Virgin Blue. We are relishing the opportunity to showcase to the rest of Australia just some of the choice and innovation in programming on offer from FOXTEL Digital.”
“Our partnership with Virgin Blue is helping us deliver on the promise of watching FOXTEL’s incredible channel line-up wherever you are,” he said.
CEO of AUSTAR, John Porter, said “AUSTAR is about innovation, value and choice, and live2air will enable regional Australians to access quality programming whether they’re at home or in the sky.”
“A great aspect of this new technology is that whether you are in regional, rural or metropolitan Australia, you can benefit”, Mr Porter said.
Virgin Blue will put its first live2air fitted aircraft into commercial service later this week, with the aim of having 20% of the fleet fitted out by the end of the year. Forty seven aircraft are expected to be fully fitted with the product by mid 2007.
The full suite of FOXTEL/AUSTAR channels available on “live2air” is:^
Sky News Australia
The History Channel
Discovery Travel & Living
FOX SPORTS NEWS
The LifeStyle Channel
FOX SPORTS 1
FOX SPORTS 2
How To Channel
FOX SPORTS 3
* The in-flight signal may be lost in turbulence and/or if banking of the aircraft is required and /or on flights crossing the Great Australian Bight
^ All live2air programming is subject to change