Amazon Fireplace TV customers will begin seeing a significant change on their streaming gamers subsequent month, as Amazon rolls out its greatest interface overhaul in additional than 4 years.
The brand new Fireplace TV expertise has been out there on Amazon’s third-generation Fireplace TV Stick and Fireplace TV Stick Lite since December, however Sandeep Gupta, Amazon’s VP and GM for Fireplace TV, stated in an interview that extra gadgets will begin getting the replace in March. These embody the Fireplace TV Stick 4K, first- and second-gen Fireplace TV Dice, and the pendant-shaped Fireplace TV.
With the replace, Amazon is making an attempt to simplify its previously chaotic menu system with fewer redundant sections and simpler methods to browse for content material. The brand new interface additionally provides system-wide consumer profile assist, so that every member of the family can have their very own personalised house display.
“It’s a large change in navigation mannequin, in discovery, and all the pieces else, and we needed to guarantee that prospects received it, understood it, and preferred the place it’s going earlier than we rolled it out to everybody,” Gupta stated.
It’s actually an enchancment over the earlier interface, however as I’ve discovered from utilizing it myself, it additionally preserves a couple of of the Fireplace TV’s outdated frustrations.
See what’s streaming
With the brand new interface, Amazon has tried to rein in a few of the sprawl that made Fireplace TV gadgets powerful to navigate. Whereas Fireplace TV gadgets used to have separate top-level menus at no cost content material, films, TV exhibits, and apps, the brand new interface consolidates all these sections into one menu, referred to as “Discover.”
That leaves simply 4 fundamental areas for navigation, together with the Dwelling part, the Library for video purchases and watchlist gadgets, a Dwell part for linear video streams, and Discover.
On the identical time, Amazon has discovered extra locations through which to cram suggestions. Your six favourite apps now sit proper subsequent to the Fireplace TV’s top-level menus, they usually can every counsel films and exhibits to look at once you scroll over them. The aforementioned Discover menu additionally has new genre-based classes, reminiscent of Drama, Westerns, and Comedy Films.
Maybe due to all these adjustments, customers who’ve already acquired the replace have been twice as more likely to enterprise past the primary house display and into different components of the interface, Gupta stated.
“Fairly frankly, plenty of [the old interface] wasn’t working for them, and it had gotten stale and repetitive, they usually weren’t in a position to uncover and discover new content material,” he stated. “That’s actually the place we spent plenty of time to attempt to enhance the expertise.”
Room for enchancment
That’s to not say the brand new interface is a complete triumph.
Like a few of its rivals (most notably Google and its new Chromecast), Amazon is making an attempt to unravel the issue of getting too many streaming apps to type by. To that finish, the Fireplace TV’s content material suggestions come from a number of totally different sources, together with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, and CBS All Entry.
However as a result of Amazon doesn’t all the time specify the place a advice comes from till you click on on it, you possibly can’t simply inform whether or not that choice would require one more subscription or rental price. Not like on the aforementioned Chromecast or the TiVo Stream 4K, there’s no technique to restrict the Fireplace TV house display to only the content material you’re already paying for.
Gupta stated the house display is structured this fashion by design, as Amazon needs folks to find issues on new providers. Nonetheless, he says Amazon is engaged on methods to make these suggestions extra related. For example, the corporate simply launched a “Dynamic Row” function that arranges your own home display based mostly in your viewing habits.
“When there’s a advice that’s not related, it seems like an advert, whereas suggestions which are related really feel like a useful discovery mechanism,” he stated.
Technically, there may be one technique to filter out content material that prices further: Contained in the Discover menu’s Films and TV Reveals sections, you possibly can flip on a “Free To Me” filter that solely exhibits content material out of your subscriptions or ad-supported programming. And when you browse by style, you’ll normally see a row of suggestions simply out of your subscription providers.
However even these options are imperfect. I’ve discovered that they weigh closely towards Netflix and Amazon Prime, to the exclusion of different providers I’m subscribed to, together with Disney+, CBS All Entry, and Apple TV+.
Towards a greater streaming information
These points converse to a bigger drawback with Fireplace TV generally, one which isn’t in any respect distinctive to the brand new interface: It will possibly nonetheless really feel like extra like a advertising train than an try to serve customers.
The house display continues to have banner adverts and sponsored content material rows, which you could scroll over to succeed in the suggestions additional down, and content material from Amazon Prime and Amazon’s ad-supported IMDb TV service appear to get extra promotion than the rest. Whereas different streaming platforms reminiscent of Roku and Google TV have their very own adverts and promos, Amazon’s method feels extra aggressive.
However maybe this may begin to change as streaming providers begin jockeying for higher placement. On some degree, the quantity of Prime content material on the Fireplace TV house display seems like a holdover from when most different apps weren’t excited by that type of aggregation. Historically, providers like Netflix have been extra intent on pulling folks into their very own apps than promoting content material exterior of them.
Gupta stated these providers are lastly coming round, although. He famous that Hulu + Dwell TV noticed a 50 % enhance in site visitors when it added channels to the Fireplace TV’s “Dwell” part, and stated streaming providers are beginning to see unified guides as a necessity for engagement. With a bit of luck, the Fireplace TV expertise will turn out to be extra balanced as streaming suppliers insist on placing their content material on show.
“You see increasingly streaming providers, increasingly apps popping out, so the place do folks go to find and discover new content material? That’s actually the place we spend plenty of time to enhance the expertise,” Gupta stated.
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