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MLB strikes deal to stream live games on flights

August 30, 2011 | 10:59 am


Pilots may never have to give passengers score updates on baseball games again.

At least not on Southwest Airlines flights.

Westlake Village-based Row 44 Inc., an in-flight broadband Internet provider for Southwest, said it signed a deal with Major League Baseball to deliver live streaming video and audio broadcasts to passengers' smartphones, laptops, tablets and other Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Southwest is currently in the process of wiring its entire fleet with Row 44’s in-flight broadband system. The carrier is offering the service for a introductory rate of $5.

With the deal, Major League Baseball has become the first sports league to offer in-flight live streaming video of its games, Row 44 said.

“This partnership is the first in a series that underscore Row 44's commitment to creating a unique broadband entertainment experience for our airline partners and their customers," Howard Lefkowitz, the company’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement.

Row 44, named after the last row on a DC-10 commercial jet, uses a network of telecommunications satellites belonging to Hughes Network Systems. By tapping into Hughes' network, Row 44 has the potential to provide worldwide Internet access.

The company has more than 40 employees spread across offices in Westlake Village, Las Vegas and Lombard, Ill.

"The integration of live baseball games into Row 44's in-flight broadband entertainment experience ensures our traveling fans won't have to miss a pitch," Bob Bowman, chief executive of Major League Baseball advanced media, said in a statement.


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-- W.J. Hennigan

Photo: Row 44 Chief Executive John Guidon, left, and President Gregg Fialcowitz on the wings of the company's 1950 Grumman Albatross Seaplane that it uses for equipment testing. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times