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MLB strikes deal to stream live games on airlines

August 31, 2011|By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

Anyone for baseball in the sky?

In-flight broadband Internet provider Row 44 Inc. said it has signed a deal with Major League Baseball to deliver live streaming video and audio broadcasts to Southwest Airlines passengers over smartphones, laptops, tablets and other wireless devices.

Southwest is wiring its entire fleet with systems from Row 44. The Westlake Village company is Southwest's in-flight Internet provider. The carrier is offering the service initially for $5.

With the deal, Major League Baseball has become the first professional sports league to offer in-flight live streaming video of its games, Row 44 said. It did not disclose when it will be available.

"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 Internet access worldwide.

The company has more than 40 employees 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's advanced media unit, said in a statement.

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