Southwest Airlines Re-Ups With Dish

Extending a tie- in that got off the ground last July, Dish Network and Southwest Airlines announced Thursday that they have extended a marketing partnership and promotion that includes an element that gives flyers free access to a lineup of live TV channels and a slate of on-demand fare on their mobile devices over the plane’s Wi-Fi platform. 

The “TV Flies Free” promotion, now extended through December 31, offers nearly 20 live TV channels up to 75 VOD titles on nearly 400 Wi-Fi-enabled Southwest jets.  The free streaming TV service uses a managed in-flight IP video system that relies on Wi-Fi, but is delivered  separately from Southwest’s in-flight Wi-Fi service, which runs $8 per device.

As the sponsor of the free in-flight TV service, Dish has been using it to pitch free iPads to qualified, new customers. As part of the extension, Dish said it will continue to offer new subs who sign up for the Hopper and a qualified programming package 12,600 points in the airline’s Rapid Rewards program and a free iPad Mini.

“Since the FAA changed its rules regarding personal electronic device usage, mobile video viewing on Southwest Airlines flights has increased more than 20 percent,” said James Moorhead, Dish’s chief marketing officer, in statement. “By extending our partnership with Southwest we are able to give their Customers a sample of what DISH customers experience on a daily basis, their favorite TV programs, anytime, anywhere and at no additional cost, simply the best mobile TV experience.”

Dish wouldn't say how many new subscribers it has yielded from the Southwest deal, but the "promotion has been a great success in helping us reach our target consumer," a Dish spokesman said.

Dish added 35,000 net new video subs in the third quarter of 2013, beating analyst estimates that it would lose 39,000 video customers.