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

iPad 2

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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