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Philo partners with Amazon for TV controls through Alexa

An Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker as it appears in an undated handout image.
An Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker as it appears in an undated handout image. (Photo courtesy Amazon, Graphic by The Desk)

Subscribers of wallet-friendly streamer Philo who access the service using Amazon’s line of Fire TV sticks and devices can now use their voice to control the app through Alexa-enabled remotes and smart speakers.

This week, Philo marketing executive Bailey Peterson said the company has worked with Amazon to integrate its streaming service into the Fire TV platform, allowing subscribers to flip through content using the Fire TV’s “Live Tab” and enabling streamers to control various aspects of Philo using their voice remotes and Alexa-enabled smart speakers.

“We have teamed up with our device partner to ensure that our app has all the bells and whistles, because when you sit down to watch TV, you should enter a world that’s the exact opposite of complicated,” Peterson wrote in a blog post published on Monday.

A Philo spokesperson confirmed to The Desk that its customers can ask Alexa to do a variety of tasks — including pause, rewind, fast-forward and play programming — when they are actively using the Philo app on their Fire TV streaming devices. Streamers can also ask Alexa to pull up a show or movie, and if it’s available on Philo, their television screen will automatically show them an option to start the video.

Philo is taking advantage of Amazon-developed technology called the Video Skills Kit, which allows select video publishers the ability to integrate their streaming services with Amazon’s line of Fire TV and Alexa-enabled smart speakers. The program is by invitation, and only a handful of video publishers have been selected to integrate the Video Skills Kit into their product, according to a person familiar with the partnership.

Philo integrated Amazon’s Video Skills Kit in mid-July, with the newest feature allowing subscribers the ability to find shows and movies across any of Philo’s live pay television channels and free, ad-supported partners using their Alexa-enabled remote or smart speaker. That same content will now also populate inside a “Recommended For You” category on the home screens of Fire TV devices.

Philo costs $25 a month for access to over 80 live television channels and free, ad-supported content streams. The service comes with an unlimited, cloud-based DVR feature that records and stores TV shows and movies for up to one year after they air on television. It also has an on-demand catalog from its content providers that offers tens of thousands of TV episodes and movies.

In addition to its core package of over 80 live channels, Philo also offers  “Movies & More” add-on package with a handful of movie and specialty channels for $3 a month. Customers can also sign up for the premium movie networks Starz and Epix from within the service.

Philo offers a seven-day free trial for new customers who want to try the service before committing to a subscription.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).