Amazon enhances Fire TV voice search, recommendations with AI

Amazon is enhancing search capabilities and resulting personalized content recommendations for Fire TV users in the U.S. with voice-activated GenAI-powered functionality that let’s viewers use conversational language and phrases to find TV and film options.

Coinciding with Fire TV’s 10-year anniversary, Amazon announced the updated AI-powered Alexa search experience Thursday. The feature has started rolling out to customers in the U.S. in English on select Fire TV devices running FOS6 and later and will become available in the U.S. on all eligible Fire TV devices in the coming weeks.

The search experience is powered by an Amazon-built Large Language Model (LLM), that works via Alexa prompts. In a blog post describing the update, Amazon said viewers can search for entertainment recommendations “the same way you might ask a friend with encyclopedic knowledge about TV shows and movies.”

Consumers can use natural language and complex or nuanced phrases to ask for suggestions based on topic, genre, plot, character, actor, and quotes. It’s meant to be useful whether viewers only have a vague idea of what they want to watch or maybe need an assist to pull up the specific title of a TV show or movie they’re interested in but can’t remember the name of or might not know where it’s available.

Some of the search examples Amazon gave are “Show me movies about dog and human friendships,”  “Show me psychological thrillers with surprise endings”, or “What movie has the line, ‘You’re killing me Smalls’?”.

Fire TV UI The Sandlot
Fire TV customers can use nuanced or complex language to search and surface relevant content recommendations.  (Amazon Fire TV)

The resulting personalized list of choices pulls from content libraries across other streaming apps on the Fire TV platform, including from Amazon’s Prime Video, other SVODs like Hulu or Netflix, as well as free streaming options on FAST services like Amazon’s Freevee, Paramount’s Pluto TV and The Roku Channel. The resulting list also shows what app or service the recommended titles are available on and denotes free content with ads when applicable. Below recommended voice search results, Fire TV also shows separate additional rows, including free short-form content from its embedded free TV experience Fire TV Channels, launched last year.

Improved search, content discovery and personalized recommendations can help address a consumer streaming struggle, where many are burdened by choice fatigue amid lackluster recommendations, an abundance of programming options and fragmentation of where or what services have particular content at a given time.

Nielsen highlighted the issue last year in its 2023 State of Play report that found viewers on average spend more than 10 minutes searching for something to watch when they don’t have a specific title in mind. And 1 in 5 ditched their TV session altogether because they weren’t sure what to watch and didn’t land on something after browsing. Along the same lines, survey data earlier this year from Hub Entertainment Research indicated there’s room for improvement on tailoring recommendations to viewers, as only 10% of respondents said streaming services’ recommendations consistently match their interests.

Amazon isn’t the only company looking to inject AI to enhance its entertainment experience. Google’s YouTube is utilizing AI for improved CTV ad experiences. Last year YouTube started testing out AI-informed ad breaks for its CTV app and in early results found over half of viewers engaged in nearly 30% longer viewer sessions when exposed to fewer but lengthier ad breaks.

Article updated to clarify that separate rows such, as short-form content on Fire TV Channels, don't include recommended content results from the new AI-powered voice search feature.