Amazon is upgrading its live TV experience on Fire TV with new integrations with several live TV streaming services, including Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV. Live content from these services will now appear in key areas with the Fire TV user interface, including the Live tab of Fire TV and the Channel Guide, making Fire TV even more like a replacement for cable TV than before.
Already, Amazon Fire TV had offered integrations with nearly 20 other apps in the same way, including live TV apps like Philo and Pluto TV, as well as its own main video channels.
But the addition of Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV brings the three most important and popular apps among cable cutters that pay for a live TV experience. Sling TV has 2.31 million subscribers; YouTube TV has more than 2 million; and Hulu + Live TV has 3.3 million.
The live content for these applications can be found in three main sections: the Live tab, the “On Now” lines and the guide to multi-application channels.
Broadcasting live TV over the Internet has become a more popular option for cable cutters over the years, as it offers a less expensive way to have a cable TV experience. Unfortunately, this gap has narrowed in recent months as over-the-air television users have been subject to continual price increases as the services have expanded their range of channels.
However, many live TV customers remain, because even with the increases, it can still be slightly lower than cable and offers more flexibility – like working on multiple platforms and not tied to a cable box.
This trend toward live content has also been seen on Fire TV, says Amazon.
The Live tab has become the second most visited destination on the Fire TV interface after the home screen, due to its live content integrations, the company noted. In addition, live TV streaming apps on Fire TV have seen the total time spent in apps and active clients more than double, on average, since Fire TV added its live TV discovery integrations.
“Fire TV is extremely popular among Philo fans. Since integrating with Amazon’s live streaming discovery features, the number of active Philo users has increased almost 2.5 times on Fire TV, “said Andrew McCollum, CEO of Philo, whose TV streaming app was one of the previous additions to Fire TV.
To use new integrations, you must first log in to the streaming app to which you subscribe with your current account information. You can then access the app’s live content via the Live tab, which organizes live content in the familiar Netflix style of scrolling lines. Here there are lines for things like “Live Sports” and “Live News”, as well as the content of your subscription channels.
From there, you can jump into the Channel Guide, which offers the more traditional grid guide, similar to cable TV.
This format is popular with subscribers of over-the-air television services.
On Monday, for example, Roku introduced its own guide to live TV channels, accessible via a new thumbnail, which allows Roku users to browse free live and linear content that Roku offers in the same way.
Amazon’s Fire TV platform, however, has the advantage of integrating Alexa.
This means that users can ask Alexa to open the Channel Guide or even change channels by saying “Alexa, tune in [name of channel], “for example. It works via Alexa built into the Fire TV Cube, via a paired Echo device, or using the Alexa voice remote control from Fire TV, depending on your configuration.
“We are delighted to welcome Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV to our integrated suite of live TV discovery features,” said Sandeep Gupta, vice president of Fire TV, in a statement. “We believe that the future of connected television is one that advances live content, simplifies the streaming and OTT landscape, and makes it easy for customers to discover the programs they want to watch,” a- he added.
The integration of Sling TV started rolling out earlier this year, Amazon said, but is officially announced today.
YouTube TV will be available starting today and Hulu + Live TV will be available in the coming weeks.