IMG Media, part of IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media company, has teamed up with electronics giant Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, to launch the first-ever live global premium 24-hour sports channel – SPORT 24 - for airline passengers beginning this week.
The ground-breaking service, which is available through Panasonic’s eXTV service, is being broadcast via satellite to specially-equipped Gulf Air planes and feature live coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, The Barclays Premier League, and Bundesliga, The Masters, The Open Championship and the Ryder Cup, Formula 1, Roland Garros and the Australian Open.
The channel will also be available to cruise liners beginning March 1, 2012 with Norwegian Cruise Liners (NCL) being the first operator to broadcast SPORT 24 on selected vessels.
There are ongoing discussions with a number of other airlines interested in taking the service and Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national airline, is initially offering Sport 24 on its ‘Sky Hub’ which is currently available on A330 aircraft that fly long-haul and on some intra-Gulf routes including its destinations to Europe, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jeddah, Manila, Lahore, Islamabad.
Panasonic’s eXTV television network uses the company’s eXConnect in-flight Ku-band communications service, including the same Ku antenna and onboard components, to deliver high-quality, television programming to passengers during their flight. It provides live, uninterrupted content to aircraft flying all over the world, even over oceans.
IMG Media, who already produce a 24-hour Premier League content service for the League’s overseas broadcasters, has acquired the rights to the various sporting events and programming and will be producing the content within its London production facility.
Richard Wise, Senior Vice President, IMG Media, said, “Sport 24 will revolutionize the way passengers watch live sports on airlines and cruise ships. For the first time ever viewers will be able to enjoy the greatest sporting events live while travelling on business or holidaying abroad. Sport fans will no longer have to miss their favorite team, or event on this new dedicated sports channel.”
David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communication Services with Panasonic Avionics Corporation said, “The launch of the Sport 24 channel is a momentous occasion not only for Panasonic’s eXTV service but for all of the in-flight market. The Sport 24 channel represents a major advancement in the in-flight experience for passengers all over the world. We are excited to be working with IMG and to have Gulf Air as our launch customer. After all, there’s nothing quite like watching the world's top sporting events like the Olympics, live, on an aircraft, anywhere in the world.”
Gulf Air Senior Manager of In-Flight Entertainment & Communications, Mr. Mohamad El Assaad said, “Following the successful launch of our ‘Sky Hub’ we are now bringing our customers, more live channels and more programs; the Sport 24 channel, with an exceptional array of live action is the latest in our offerings. Now our customers onboard can watch their favorite sports stars live at 35000 feet with all exhilaration and enthusiasm.”