In conjunction with DISH Network (NASDAQ: DISH ) , Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV ) has been offering its customers free access to a list of on-demand TV selections since July of last year. Today, the partners announced the deal providing free TV access for passengers to as many as 20 TV shows and 75 on-demand titles will be extended until Dec. 31, 2014. For Internet connectivity via Wi-Fi, Southwest charges passengers $8 a day.
Southwest said it has nearly 440 planes equipped with satellite-based Wi-Fi connectivity, which is necessary to utilize DISH Network's programming. At the end of 2013's Q3 in September, Southwest operated a fleet of 683 aircraft.
According to Southwest and DISH Network's joint statement, the free TV shows and on-demand entertainment is compatible with, "iOS, Android and most other Internet-ready devices." Southwest Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Krone commented, "Free is a great thing for Customers in this industry and having DISH providing this amenity through 2014 will continue to make our onboard experience even more entertaining this year."
Like most U.S. carriers following the decision last fall by the Federal Aviation Administration to ease restrictions on in-flight electronic device use, Southwest began testing its planes for compatibility. Approximately three weeks after the FAA restrictions were lifted, Southwest became the only U.S. carrier to offer gate-to-gate Wi-Fi service. However, most major airlines now make Wi-Fi available for passengers once the plane is in motion. Since the FAA rule change, mobile video viewing on Southwest flights has increased more than 20%, according to DISH.