In an interview with the Senior Vice President Retail, IFE & Connectivity, Patrick Brannelly, we get to know about ice, the Emirates’ inflight entertainment system. The award-winning concept has more than 4,500 channels of movies, TV shows, music, and games, on-demand and in multiple languages, and you can track your flight’s progress, get weather, news, sports reports right on your screen.
What does ‘ice’ stand for?
Ice stands for Information, Communications, and Entertainment and it’s Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment system.
How many channels, movies, and shows are there on ice?
Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment, ice, has over 4,500 channels of on-demand entertainment. The catalog includes over 1,000 movies, more than any other airline, popular television box sets, tens of thousands of music tracks, podcasts, and games, which also cater to our Egyptian passengers.
How often is the system updated with new material?
Emirates award-winning inflight entertainment, ice, continues to add new content every month. On October, 25 new Hollywood blockbusters, 197 hours of new TV, and a selection from the MasterClass series were added to the entertainment catalog. Emirates is the first airline to show the MasterClass series onboard, allowing customers to learn from the world’s best including Thomas Keller, RL Stine, and Penn & Teller. Emirates is also screening “My Story”, the TV series based on the book of the same name by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Additionally, 61 Egyptian movies as well as a selection of Egyptian TV shows and over 1,200 songs from 35 Egyptian music artists are featured on ice at the moment, in addition to the Holy Quran channel.
How do you decide what kind of Arabic content is added to ice?
With a global customer base, Emirates will continue to offer entertainment for its passengers. We are partnering with film, TV, and audio producers around the world to offer Emirates’ customers the largest and most diverse entertainment selection in the skies. We have entertainment in 44 languages and each month over 100 movies are added to the system. Emirates ensures its youngest customers are catered for with a large selection of children’s movies and TV channels. In addition to over 75 Disney, Marvel, and children’s movies there are also over 50 TV channels, including Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, CBeebies & the Disney Channel.
Roughly how much (percentage) of Arabic content is Egyptian? How many Egyptian movies and shows can we expect onboard?
ice features over 80 Arabic movies including more than 60 Egyptian movies. Emirates has added a further 10 Egyptian movies to ice in November. This includes classics such as Ashki Lemeen as well as some of the latest Egyptian movie releases such as Casablanca and Nadi El Regal El Seri. In addition, customers can also enjoy over 1,200 songs from 35 Egyptian music artists.
Is there a bigger focus on classic Egyptian films and music or is there more of a mix between that and the modern?
We have been operating flights to and from Cairo for nearly 35 years and are committed to the market and our customers. We have a cosmopolitan customer base and always ensure there is something to suit everyone, offering both classic Egyptian films and music and modern movies and music. This includes classics such as Ashki Lemeen as well as some of the latest Egyptian movie releases such as Casablanca and Nadi El Regal El Seri. The Egyptian music available on ice offers an equal variety, with over 1,200 songs from 35 artists. We want to ensure there is a broad mix that represents the past as well as the present.
What interesting features are available on ice that people probably don’t know about?
As part of the Emirates experience onboard, the award-winning inflight entertainment system, ice, offers more than just movies, series, and documentaries. Passengers can follow their flight’s progress on our moving map, which shows the world from 40,000ft through external cameras and learn a new language with uTalk, with over 140 languages and 180 hours of content and 60 different learning topics. Passengers can also listen to music, the radio, or podcasts uninterrupted while they explore.
We are constantly working on enhancing the customer experience when it comes to IFE. Soon customers will be able to do more than just sync their playlist on their phones, we are looking to introduce remote control capabilities on our customers’ personal devices and much more, which we plan to roll out in the coming months.
Can you tell us more about the Create your Playlist feature on the Emirates App?
Emirates introduced an innovative function on its Emirates app to allow customers to create bespoke playlists ahead of their flight and sync it to their seats once onboard, limiting time browsing on ice. Customers can plan their trip more effectively, and maximize their onboard experience by using the Emirates app to browse the expansive entertainment catalog at any time.
As we become more digital, Emirates has included inflight menus on the Emirates app, which has been further enhanced to be available offline too. This means customers will be able to browse through the menu without Wi-Fi even in the air. The new application is available across all Android devices and will soon be available on iOS devices.
How has the pandemic affected the selection of material to put on ice?
The pandemic has resulted in the delay and disruption in the production of a number of Hollywood, Bollywood, as well as other traditional movie industries and subsequent distribution chains. This of course affects the number of movies, TV shows, and other content available for us to add to ice. As industries resume their activities, we anticipate a pickup in the amount of content that will be available for us to add to ice for our customers to enjoy.
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