Television Is an Important Part of Your Cruise Experience, Even If You Don’t Know It
Written by: Kuki
On the newer ships one of the features often touted as an amenity (meaning it offers extra value) is when the cabins are outfitted with flat screen televisions. Suites are being equipped, and promoted to have enormous flat screen televisions. Jumbo screens outdoors on deck are becoming common place.
The cruise lines seem to understand, probably more than any of us even give much thought to, that video programming is an important part of the cruise experience for passengers.
To this point the availability of television programming choices has been extremely limited, and dependant on what part of the world your ship is traveling in. Even if some form of programming was available, signals were intermittent.
Aside from issues with satellite signal technologies, there’s an issue with broadcasting rights. In some cases, your favorite networks may not own the international rights to broadcast their own signals.
MTN, a privately held company, with main offices in Miramar, Florida supplies television, internet, Wi-Fi, cell phone, and satellite services to the majority of the cruise ship, and maritime industry. In 1986 they were responsible for the first live TV broadcast at sea. In 2003 they broadcast TV from a moving truck for NBC News in Iraq. In 2004, in a joint venture with AT&T they began to provide GSM and CDMA services to ships.
Now, on Feb. 1/2010, MTN has launched the cruise industry’s first fully digital global TV network. The signals are broadcast from the massive MTN TV broadcast center in Holmdel, New Jersey. This has been made possible by a partnership arrangement between the cruise lines, the content providers, and MTN.
This new system, which is currently in operation on 12 ships, will be installed on over 40 ships by May 2010 with a total of 32,000 cabins already under contract.
At it’s introduction, the programming available to cruise lines (through licensing agreements with providers) includes Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, Sky News, Sky Sports News, and BBC World News. Through advances in engineering satellite broadcast technologies MTN is able to provide this program seamlessly and globally, regardless of ships positions. This television programming is an add on to onboard stored television programming available now, such as old television programming, movies, and pay per view movies.
The announcement for this development was made during a Press Luncheon we attended during the Seatrade – Cruise Shipping Miami conference earlier this month. At that time we learned that the cruise lines pay for this programming on a per cabin basis, though not surprisingly MTN did not reveal what that cost per cabin was.
At this time MTN is partnered with Celebrity, Silversea, Norwegian, Crystal, Princess, Fred Olsen, and Azamara cruise lines to operate this programming package.
As the program expands, MTN will be waiting to hear from their cruise line partners as to what broadcast networks and programming they would like added to the package, and would proceed to attempt to get licensing agreements in place to fill those requests.
To the North American passenger market this does not mean that the “entertainment” broadcasts you may be used to watching at home are suddenly available, so you won’t suddenly be watching Amazing Race, Survivor, American Idol or Dancing With the Stars. I believe at this time Carnival is the only cruise line providing that type of Network programming, and it is only available in the Caribbean.
However, the new package of the MTN Global Broadcast Network will certainly allow you to keep much better informed of the world events going on, as you cruise. And if the cruise lines find demand for it to be high, I’d have to believe that their partnership with MTN will allow them to negotiate the rights, and to add that type of programming to their global network package.
So… How important to you is to watch TV during your cruise? Do you feel this is a significant development, or worthy of only a shrug of the shoulders?
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Posted: March 23rd, 2010 under Kuki.