Like JetBlue, which owns the company (LiveTV) that Continental has contracted with to provide the service, the Houston-based airline will offer 36 channels from DirecTV.
The service, which will be free in first class and cost $6 in economy, is expected to go live on certain flights in January 2009. In addition, Continental plans to offer in-flight e-mail and instant messaging connectivity, although those services are still being tested.
When it launched in February 2000, the opportunity to watch live TV--including such marquee events as the Olympics and baseball playoffs--on a personal seatback screen proved to be a major brand differentiator for JetBlue. The service initially included 24 channels. The service remains free to all customers.
Larry Kellner, Continental CEO, said: "Our customers want more in-flight entertainment and communication options. We have been closely watching technology developments, and are delighted to have teamed up with LiveTV."
The channels expected to be part of the Continental lineup include CBS, NBC, Fox News, ESPN and MTV--all are also available on JetBlue.
LiveTV, a subsidiary of JetBlue, provides service to other low-budget carriers, such as Frontier and AirTran. Continental is the first major international carrier to be a customer.