HSN will offer live online video programming as part of a new in-flight service called SkyTown Center, officials said Thursday.
The service is being launched by Row 44, a provider of satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi for commercial aircraft. The walled-garden service is meant to allow airlines to rapidly offer additional revenue-generating entertainment, shopping and productivity options to the flying public.
SkyTown Center is the first of several products designed to fully leverage an airline’s investment in in-flight connectivity.
In addition to HSN, rollout partners include SkyMall, which will manage its retail partners and their operations; and specialists in travel and mobility like JiWire, BeDynamic and Pinger. First fly date is scheduled Nov.1, in time for the holiday shopping season.
“As an innovative leader in the multi-channel industry, HSN is the first retailer to offer live video streaming across three screens – television, online and via mobile – and we are thrilled to be partnering with Row 44 as the first TV shopping network to broadcast live via Wi-Fi more than 10,000 feet in the air,” John McDevitt, HSN’s vice president of advanced services, said in a prepared statement.
“This innovative new platform is a great opportunity for us to raise our brand awareness while generating revenue from a highly desirable customer base,” he added.
The walled garden is accessible at no charge to all passengers with Wi-Fi-enabled devices, regardless of their interest in purchasing Internet access. Flyers can use it to shop at major retailers, view live television, play games, and explore their destination cities-even booking ground-based services and events before they land.
“SkyMall is excited to expand its role as the in-flight retail consolidator to SkyTown Center,” Casey Christ, SkyMall’s vice president of airline marketing, said in a prepared statement.
“From this platform, we can offer customers the ability to shop from a wide variety of retailers during their flight, allowing them to be more productive when they are traveling,” Christ said. “For retailers, this new platform will provide another way to reach the highly desirable and captive air traveler. Row 44 has developed an outstanding platform and this program is a natural evolution of the SkyMall program which will allow us to drive more revenue for our airline partners while enhancing the overall customer experience onboard.”
A paid SMS-gateway texting feature will also be offered, allowing passengers to send and receive messages to mobile phone users on the ground.
Skytown Center will test various service models during a pilot period. It also includes a technical trial of live television streamed over IP (Internet Protocol) and simultaneous broadcast to multiple aircraft while in flight.
The Skytown Center portal is available for rebranding and customization by any airline using the Row 44 in-flight broadband system.
“Pent up demand for in-flight Internet access is the key driver in the airline industry’s desire to purchase connectivity for their fleets,” said Wendy Campanella, Row 44’s vice president of business development. “But our customers understand that it’s simply the first step in fully leveraging aircraft connectivity, and that there are many additional potential revenue streams. Skytown Center is designed to speed them down this path.”
Row 44 is the a leading broadband Mobile Service Provider to commercial aviation. The company’s Wi-Fi hotspots in the sky offer broadband speeds to the plane. Row 44’s broadband solution is supported by the global infrastructure of Hughes, which has shipped more than 1.9 million broadband satellite terminals to customers in more than 100 countries.