fuboTV has become the first OTT-TV service provider to strike a distribution deal for in-flight entertaining via a new partnership with satellite broadband specialist Viasat.
Financial terms weren't disclosed, but the deal will enable existing fuboTV subs and those who sign up for a seven-day free trial of the service to stream live TV and access on-demand content using in-flight WiFi networks.
Update: Under the deal, passengers will also be able to stream the fubo Sports Network for free (no trial necessary). The fubo Sports Network is a TV channel featuring live sports and a mix of original shows.
Eligible airlines will need to sign up for a partnership with Viasat and fuboTV to make the OTT-TV service available on planes that are equipped for Viasat's satellite-based broadband service and in-flight WiFi systems.
"We are actively talking to airlines looking for the great content that fuboTV can provide. We expect to announce airline partnerships in the coming weeks," a Viasat official said via email.
Viasat's US airline partners are American Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines. It also has agreements with several international airlines, including Qantas, EL AL Israel Airlines, SAS, Finnair, Icelandair, Neos, La Compagnie, Azul and Aeromexico.
The partnership has a unique technology angle, as fuboTV and Viasat said they are the first to apply standards, including new open caching specifications, from the Streaming Video Alliance for in-flight connectivity. Viasat and fuboTV are also using multicast techniques (which enable multiple viewers to share a live TV stream) to drive scale and reliability and image quality into an OTT service that's been optimized for in-flight viewing.
Why this matters
While Dish Network and DirecTV do have in-flight TV distribution and marketing deals with select airlines, fuboTV is the first OTT-TV service to forge an airline-focused deal and the first streaming service to use SVA standards for such a use case.
Depending on how many airlines go for the offer, the Viasat partnership should also provide fuboTV with more consumer exposure and expand the number of new customers opting to try the service.
The Viasat partnership also follows fuboTV's new agreement with Google Fiber, which is now marketing fuboTV alongside Google's own YouTube TV streaming service. Google Fiber has stopped selling its legacy IPTV platform/service in lieu of these OTT-delivered pay-TV options.
fuboTV provides a lineup of more than 100 live TV channels and a VoD library of more than 30,000 TV shows and movie titles. fuboTV doesn't disclose subscriber numbers, making it difficult to judge how it rates among other OTT-TV services such as Hulu Live (3.2 million), Dish-owned Sling TV (2.69 million), YouTube TV (over 2 million) and AT&T TV Now (926,000).
For Viasat, the deal will add a new video services capability on top of the core broadband services it provides to airline partners.
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading