Inflight entertainment

Live Sports on Your Seat-back Screen

A350 passengers will no longer be left in suspense as live sport comes to Cathay Pacific

Note: as of summer 2020, live sports broadcasting is temporarily suspended, but live news channels remain available. Check our entertainment editor’s picks for what to watch onboard right now among hundreds of offerings

Travel and live sports didn’t always go hand in hand. Have you ever taken off during a World Cup final, only to miss the penalty shoot-out? Or landed to find that a last-minute ace snatched the Wimbledon final?

Until recently, passengers have been used to being cut off from the rest of the world while in the air. But for Cathay Pacific customers, the arrival of the state-of-the-art Airbus A350 aircraft means you can now watch that crucial Premier League game from the comfort of your seat.

Until the end of June 2019, passengers can watch live sports – including basketball, football, rugby and cricket – on the dedicated Sport 24 and Sport 24 Extra channels, available on all A350 flights. It was added specially for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, the biggest sporting event in the Hong Kong calendar.

Adding live sports is part of a wider move to enhance Cathay Pacific’s entertainment offering this year, as the airline adds more blockbuster Hollywood films, award-winning arthouse cinema, TV shows and audio programmes to its line-up.

It’s part of a move to ‘stay ahead of the airline’s diverse passenger base’, says Simon Cuthbert, product manager – entertainment and media sales.

He adds: ‘This year we are increasing the amount of new media, such as podcasts, short films, feature documentaries and web series, while maintaining our strong core basics by expanding the number of new-release films and TV boxsets available.

‘The introduction of the A350 allows us to have more content onboard than ever before, as well as live TV, which has proved very popular.’

Broadcasting live isn’t a new thing for airlines, or for Cathay Pacific. The airline currently has three live news channels, CNN, BBC and EuroNews, which are available onboard the A350. Satellite technology – which facilitates the live streaming – was first rolled out over a decade ago.

Currently, Sport 24 and Sport 24 Extra are only available on the A350, although Cathay Pacific is currently assessing whether it could be introduced to other aircraft.

A lot of technological trickery is required. First, live streaming requires a Wi-Fi connection. Content is converted into a new format and encrypted before being sent to authorised aircraft via satellite; licensing matters also have to be cleared in advance before the material can be viewed by passengers.

But you don’t need to think about this. Instead sit back, relax – and forget about missing that Premier League clash.

LeBron James
Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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