Dish Buys 600 iPads to Let Southwest Passengers Watch Free Inflight TV

Satcaster launches new tablet promo with airline, aimed at driving Q4 signups for Hopper DVR

Dish Network is high on tablets: The satcaster is expanding its marketing deal with Southwest Airlines to loan 600 Apple iPads to travelers for watching TV on Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft.

Dish is stocking about 200 iPad 2s at each of three Southwest terminals: Chicago-Midway International Airport, Denver International Airport and Oakland International Airport. The idea is to provide the captive audience a of demo Dish’s Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR and — ideally — sign them up as subscribers.

SEE ALSO: Dish’s iPad Giveaway Portends Pay TV Marketing Wars

In July, Dish and Southwest began providing free access to live TV and up to 75 on-demand shows on the airline’s more than 400 Wi-Fi-enabled planes, with programming available through iOS, Android and other Internet devices. New customers who sign up for Hopper and a qualified programming package can receive 12,500 points in Southwest’s frequent-flier program and a free iPad 2.

The TV-in-the-skies promo came after Dish launched an offer for new customers who purchase a Hopper with Sling the option of receiving an Apple iPad instead of traditional programming discounts.

Dish has not disclosed how many new customers have taken the free iPad 2 offer but execs have said they’re pleased with the results so far. The satcaster, the third-biggest U.S. pay TV provider, had 14 million subscribers as of the end of June.

The iPad 2 lending offer on Southwest is free for all passengers traveling between Midway, Denver and Oakland on WiFi-enabled Southwest flights. Dish “brand ambassadors” will be on hand at each airport to explain how the program works and provide info on the satcaster’s video services.

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