All throughout the past month, we’ve covered the World Cup ratings bonanza for broadcasters from ABC, ESPN and Univision in the U.S., to BBC One, ARD, ZDF, and TF1 in Europe, among others. While we know a lot of those numbers don’t take into account folks watching in bars, cafés and town squares, what about fans who were in the air? The sky as a content destination is a fast-growing business with companies like Global Eagle, Gogo and Panasonic Avionics connecting entertainment and airline passengers in new ways. In a historic first, and courtesy of Panasonic’s in-flight Sport 24 channel, Sunday’s World Cup final was shown live by nine international carriers. According to the company, Germany’s defeat of Argentina was seen by 40,000 people, 35,000 feet above Earth. Bloomberg reports the figure is a record for a live in-flight TV broadcast. Throughout the World Cup and across such carriers as Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Emirates, Panasonic estimated that 1.5M passengers will have seen the tournament live on its systems. The matches were delivered over satellite WiFi and shown free of charge — in all classes. Carriers in the U.S. also allowed travelers to watch many of the matches via traditional satellite TV services from DirecTV and Dish Network, Forbes reported. ESPN is beamed directly to seat back televisions in many aircraft, but not ABC which showed many weekend games and the final.
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