Basketball At 36,000 Feet: JetBlue And AA Start Streaming NBA Games

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Viasat have today announced a partnership that will bring the best of the NBA league to passengers inflight. Launching with JetBlue and American Airlines, the NBA League Pass will be offered to all passengers free of charge to stream live and on-demand games while traveling internationally. More airlines are expected to offer the service soon.

JetBlue, Universal Hydrogen, Investment
International passengers on JetBlue and American Airlines will be able to access all the games while onboard. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple

The best of the NBA available to stream for free

With just a couple of days to go until The National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs begin, Viasat and the NBA have announced a new service to keep basketball fans in tune with the action even when they’re flying abroad. Using Viasat WiFi-equipped aircraft, airline passengers traveling internationally will be able to access the games usually protected under the NBA League Pass premium subscription.

NBA Senior Vice President, Global Media Distribution and Business Operations, Matt Brabants commented on the partnership, saying,

“We are thrilled to provide fans around the world with the unique opportunity to experience the excitement of the NBA on their personal devices while in-flight at 35,000 feet.

“By leveraging Viasat’s world-class satellite technology and global reach, we believe this partnership will transform the future of content consumption for airline passengers and allow us to engage millions of new and existing NBA fans in a whole new way.”

Delta WiFi viasat
Passengers will be able to stream the games to their personal devices. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Millions of airline passengers will be able to stream the games live while jetting off on leisure or business trips, as well as watching on-demand replays of previous games. The service is set to launch on JetBlue from the start of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, which tip off on Saturday, May 22nd.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

International flights only

The NBA games will be available on all Viasat-equipped aircraft, launching with JetBlue but closely followed by American Airlines. However, it will only be available on international routes, not flights within the US, Canada or China. The NBA League Pass usually costs around $29 a month, but will be available to passengers at no extra cost.

JetBlue’s Viasat-equipped fleet is well known for offering WiFi free of charge, branded as Fly-Fi. That means passengers won’t have to part with any cash at all in order to access the games.

American Airlines does charge for its WiFi service, so passengers will need to purchase a connectivity pass, but won’t face any additional charges above that. American Airlines has around 600 aircraft equipped with Viasat WiFi.

American Airlines Boeing 777
American Airlines’ 787s have Viasat WiFi. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Viasat Managing Director of Media & Mobile Applications, Dave Elliot, commented on the offering saying,

“We’re focused on evolving the way passengers enjoy in-flight internet by offering differentiated, premium over-the-top content and streaming experiences. We continue to explore and announce new partnerships, like the NBA.

“The trend to market content – and in this case, league assets – directly to customers is powerful, and offers more opportunity to drive customer acquisition through new business models that haven’t been previously offered through packaged, linear TV viewing.”

Although the service is launching with the two US airlines, the deal with Viasat is multi-year and expansive. As such, we can expect to see NBA games available to stream on more airlines with Viasat-equipped aircraft in the coming months.


Basketball At 36,000 Feet: JetBlue And AA Start Streaming NBA Games

This article is brought to you by Simple Flying Connectivity, a new category on Simple Flying dedicated to inflight connectivity. Click here to read all of our inflight connectivity content.