Live Premier League football is to become available as in-flight entertainment along with live coverage of other major sporting events including the Olympics, the Masters, the British Open and Formula 1 motor racing.
The breakthrough is being made by Gulf Air which is to begin broadcasting content produced by the London-based media company IMG Worldwide. Passengers will be offered a new live sports channel called Sport 24 which will be broadcast via satellite to specially-equipped Gulf Air planes.
Other prime content will include live coverage of the Roland Garros and Australian Open tennis tournaments, the Ryder Cup and games from German football’s Bundesliga.
Airline passengers have previously had to make do with sports coverage in highlights packages. The Sport 24 broadcasting technology has been developed in partnership with the electronics giant Panasonic Avionics Corporation and coverage will be uninterrupted even on long distance flights over oceans. From 1 March the channel will also be available on cruise liners following a deal with Norwegian Cruise Liners.
Gulf Air, which is Bahrain’s national airline, will be showing Sport 24 on its ‘Sky Hub’ which is currently available only on the A330 aircraft that fly long-haul and on some intra-Gulf routes. Discussions are taking place with other airlines interested in taking the Sport 24 channel.
Richard Wise, Senior Vice President of IMG Media, said: “Sport 24 will revolutionise the way passengers watch live sports on airlines and cruise ships. For the first time ever viewers will be able to enjoy the greatest sporting events live while travelling on business or holidaying abroad. Sport fans will no longer have to miss their favourite team, or event on this new dedicated sports channel.”