Qantas serves up live sport, Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify on board

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 15 February 2017

The nation's airline has teamed up with a slew of media partners to offer flyers access to on-demand content including Foxtel's entire catalogue - and even live sport. In return the partners will of course gain more subscribers and app downloads for those that don't already use their services.

On Wi-Fi enabled domestic flights, Qantas customers will be able to watch their favourite shows, listen to almost any song they like and tune into real-time sport with Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify now on board.

Qantas says with speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional in-flight Wi-Fi, it will offer customers video and audio streaming when the service is switched on its first aircraft later this month.

The rest of the airline’s fleet of domestic Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft will follow from mid-2017 onwards.

While Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify are all paid subscription services, they will offer free access to Qantas customers on and off the aircraft for between three days and one month after their Qantas flight. In other words, both Netflix and Spotify require customers to sign-up to a subscription to access the free trial.

Foxtel will offer three days free access to its Foxtel app every time a customer flies, allowing customers to stream live sports, news and TV shows as well as its full range of on-demand content. No sign-up to a subscription is required.

More content partners on the way

Streaming of Sky News Australia will also be available and Qantas says it is still in discussions with a range of content partners on ways to improve the on board experience using Wi-Fi.

Qantas group executive of brand, marketing and corporate affairs, Olivia Wirth, says: “We know that email, online shopping and general web browsing will be popular uses when we switch on Wi-Fi, but what a lot of people relish about flying is being able to catch up on their favourite TV shows or watch movies they didn’t get to see at the cinema.

“Foxtel and Netflix both have huge catalogues that are expanding all the time, so there will be no shortage of entertainment on board.”

She says the usage data from the collection of albums it already has on its aircraft shows that music is a great way for passengers to relax and that Spotify will open this up so people can listen to “virtually any song” they like.

The faster connection speeds which enable streaming are made possible through the nbn Sky Muster satellite service and Qantas says this represents a significant upgrade over older satellite technology accessed by most airlines around the world.

The service uses idle data capacity, with the signal reaching the aircraft as it flies through the satellite’s 101 spot beams across Australia.

What it looks like

Customers will log on to the Qantas inflight Wi-Fi via their own devices and will be greeted by a landing page with a range of options. As well as links to access Netflix, Spotify and Foxtel, this page will feature real-time flight data; hotel, restaurant and transport options at the destination; the latest weather; and personalised information linked to itinerary and Frequent Flyer account.

As well as live sport, executive director of television at Foxtel, Brian Walsh, says Qantas passengers will also have access to Foxtel’s extensive library of new and returning drama and entertainment programming, such as HBO content, The Real Housewives of Sydney, Game of Thrones and Gogglebox.

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