Panasonic Avionics has launched its Panasonic Airline Television Network, a much broader offering than its current live programming service, which can be found on Delta Air Lines' domestic aircraft.
The proprietary broadcast TV distribution network, which I first reported about last year, includes a selection of broadcast television channels specifically licensed by Panasonic for worldwide distribution to aircraft in-flight via Ku-band satellites, says the firm.
Multi-year deals with five major television news groups have been announced, including with Al Jazeera, BBC World News, the BLOOMBERG TELEVISION network, euronews and France 24. Discussions are ongoing with additional broadcasters.
Panasonic says it defines and manages the selection of channels, and all licensing and distribution agreements are made directly with the content providers.
"Current in-flight solutions utilize existing direct-to-home feeds for their programming. The beams or footprint for these feeds are optimized to serve consumers on land, not aircraft in-flight. Furthermore, the existing distribution agreements that govern the broadcast of content are often limited to specific geopolitical boundaries," says the in-flight entertainment (IFE) hardware giant.
"In contrast, the Panasonic Airline Television Network is not reliant on existing distribution networks and encryption formats. With these restrictions removed, Panasonic can offer the first seamless, synchronized, global TV network."
At the heart of the new network is what Panasonic calls "the first worldwide in-flight television distribution system", which is powered by the same Ku-based satellite network as the firm's in-flight broadband system eXConnect service.
The system also uses the same antenna (EMS was tapped last year) and onboard components as eXConnect.
This is important since it avoids the cost and weight of additional hardware on the aircraft should a carrier want to give passengers both high-speed Internet and live television (which it should!!!) And it is, after all, considered by many to be the killer combo these days.
"The Panasonic Airline Television Network is the first seamless, worldwide in-flight television network," says Panasonic Avionics CEO Paul Margis.
"As yet another industry first, the Panasonic Airline Television Network illustrates the leadership and innovation of Panasonic Avionics in the in-flight entertainment and communications industry."
Panasonic is currently seeking regulatory approvals where necessary in partnership with potential airline customers.