February 22, 2021
Next month, Amazon is slated to launch a new Fire TV interface for its Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube streaming devices. In 2016, Amazon pioneered the “content-first user experience,” which listed rows of movies and TV shows from various streaming apps on the home TV. This idea was picked up by many others in the industry, including Google, Vizio and LG. But, as the number of streaming services has expanded, this model has become unwieldy and chaotic — and Amazon is about to rein it in via a simplified navigation bar.
Protocol reports that the navigation bar “includes access to a user’s favorite apps, as well as dedicated sections for content that won’t require any extra payments (think ad-supported shows and existing subscriptions) as well as a simplified search experience that allows someone to browse streaming results by categories.”
Each household member will be able to personalize the Fire TV devices and “a new feature called app previews … highlights content for specific apps even before a consumer opens them.” Amazon Fire TV vice president and general manager Sandeep Gupta noted, “this was a pretty radical redesign for us.”
The new Fire TV interface to the 2020 versions of Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite took place in December, and next month Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube (first and second gen) and Fire TV (third gen, pendant design) will get it, following to TVs with built-in Fire TV OS and “older streaming adapters” in coming months. It also continues to “tweak the UI on devices that have already received it.”
Protocol notes that “any change to a consumer’s discovery path can be a minefield for TV platform providers.” For example, Amazon now offers “third-party services an API to tie these app-specific profiles to Fire TV profiles,” but Sandeep admitted that it may take “several years to bring partners along.”
Partners such as Hulu are already benefitting; it “wasn’t among the launch partners when Amazon first unveiled a live TV guide for Fire TV in 2019,” and now that its live TV programming is integrated into the guide, “it saw watch time for this type of programming on Fire TV increase significantly.”