Amazon, Best Buy Partner for New Chinese-Made Insignia Fire TVs

Amazon and Best Buy Aug. 3 announced a new lineup of Best Buy Insignia F50 Series Fire TVs. The TVs are the latest from the partnership between the two companies, which began three years ago. The new F50 series TVs feature enhanced screen resolution, premium audio functionality, and Alexa voice integration for an immersive entertainment experience.

“Customers have purchased millions of Insignia and Toshiba Fire TVs in the U.S. and Canada,” Daniel Rausch, VP of entertainment devices and services at Amazon, said in a statement. “Today, we’re thrilled to further expand the Fire TV line with a new generation of Insignia — Fire TVs including the F50 Series.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Toshiba and Insignia Fire TVs range from 24 inches to 75 inches, and are available in 2K, 4K and QLED resolution technologies.

The Insignia F50 Series Fire TV uses quantum dot technology in 4K Ultra HD for claimed vibrant, true-to-life images with rich subtle details. The TVs feature Dolby Vision HDR to contrast bright highlights with dark shadows to showcase subtle details, and DTS Virtual-X speaker technology to deliver three-dimensional sound. The displays have a narrow bezel for optimal video playback for living room entertainment. The Insignia F50 Series Fire TV will be available at Best Buy stores and online, as well as Amazon.com later this summer.

“From the start of this collaboration, our goal has always been to enrich the lives of our customers,” said Luke Motschenbacher, category officer at Best Buy.

In addition, Best Buy and Amazon are working together to innovate on purchase options for customers. Orders placed on Amazon.com and picked up in a Best Buy store launched in November 2020 with one Fire TV model. Today, this option is available for the full lineup of Toshiba and Insignia Fire TVs at all Best Buy store locations in the U.S. With in-store pickup, customers can buy on Amazon.com and pick up at a local Best Buy store within the hour.

In June, Amazon.com customers purchased a record-setting number of Fire TVs including the Toshiba and Insignia Fire TVs during Prime Day and the two week lead-up period.

Vudu Coming to Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TVs and Fire TV Streaming Devices

Vudu, the transactional VOD service owned by Fandango, is launching in March on Amazon Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Fire TV streaming devices.

Consumers will be able to purchase or rent titles from Vudu on a mobile device or computer and the titles will appear instantly in their Vudu library on Fire TV for playback.

Consumers can also stream Vudu’s catalog of 4K Ultra HD content on Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube, or the Fire TV Edition smart TV’s 4K models.

Vudu offers more than 150,000 new-release and catalog movies and TV shows, along with an extensive library of content in 4K Ultra HD. The service has experienced double-digit growth in new accounts in 2020 year over year, according to a Fandango release.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

 “We want Vudu fans to be able to watch movies and TV shows on all of their favorite devices, and Fire TV has been one of our customers’ most-requested devices for streaming content,” Kevin Shepela, EVP and chief commercial officer at Fandango, said in a statement. “With Vudu’s vast library of premium content from new release event movies to favorite films and TV shows, we are excited to deliver to Fire TV users so many new viewing options to watch in their living rooms, many in breathtaking 4K.”

Last week, Vudu launched on Xfinity Flex and X1, and in 2020 it launched on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, and TiVo. Vudu can also be found on dozens of connected television devices and streaming platforms from Roku, LG, Sony and many others.

CFO: Amazon Upping AVOD Focus, Growth in Foreign Prime Video Use

Lost in the glow of another colossal fiscal quarter for Amazon was an e-commerce launch in Sweden and increased focus on ad-supported VOD distribution going into 2021.

Speaking on the Oct. 28 fiscal call, CFO Brian Olsavsky said the number of Prime members who stream Prime Video outside the U.S. grew by more than 80% year-over-year in the third quarter, and international customers more than doubled the hours of content they watched on Prime video compared to last year. Prime Video expanded globally in 2016 to more than 2o0 countries.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

While Prime Video, like Netflix, remains ad-free, Amazon isn’t turning its back on ad-supported content and incremental revenue opportunities. The company owns and operates ad-supported IMDb TV, and is working with third-party apps on Fire TV for advertising opportunities.

“We’re seeing some good momentum with that,” Olsavsky said. “I think good momentum and a lot of good learning on some of those initiatives there. I won’t say too much about what we’ll look like next year, but that gives you kind of sense of priorities where we’re spending our time and focused on.”

The Roku Channel, Amazon Fire TV Partner, Consolidating Streaming Video Influence

The Roku Channel and Amazon Fire TV have inked a distribution partnership affording the former’s 100,000 ad-supported content titles and 115+ live TV channels onto the Fire TV platform. This includes Fire TV smart TVs, soundbars and streaming devices with Alexa voice commands, according to a blog post.

On the surface, the partnership would seem to make little sense considering the competitive business models. The Roku Channel, which launched in 2017, has about 43 million registered users. Combined with Fire TV’s 40 million active users, the two platforms represent gateways to 70% of the domestic streaming media device market, according to Comscore.

“We’re building on our commitment to make The Roku Channel even more accessible by expanding onto [third-party] streaming devices,” Rob Holmes, VP of programming and engagement at Roku, said of the Fire TV deal in a statement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Roku Channel typically operates revenue-sharing agreements with content holders. The Roku platform, which generated 69% of Roku revenue in the most-recent fiscal period, affords users access to third-party SVOD services such as Netflix and Disney+. Roku is likely splitting ad-revenue with Amazon in order to put The Roku Channel onto Fire TV, according to observers.

At the same time, Fire TV does not allow access to its third-party SVOD services directly via Roku, despite the fact Amazon’s Prime Channels platform (featuring third-party SVOD services) is available on Roku.

This means that Roku users wanting to stream services such as Showtime OTT, Starz, Epix or HBO on their Fire TV, can do so only by subscribing to those services directly through the Roku platform.

It’s a similar situation HBO Max finds itself in. WarnerMedia’s high-profile SVOD platform is not available on Roku or Fire TV. NBCUniversal’s Peacock just inked a deal with Roku, which should significantly enhance its access to OTT video consumers.

“An expanding and increasingly engaged audience makes The Roku Channel a more attractive place for content owners to share their series and films,” wrote Adam Levy with The Motely Fool. “More content makes it more attractive to viewers, creating a virtuous cycle for Roku.”

‘HBO Now’ Rebrands to ‘HBO’ on Amazon Fire TV; No Deal Yet on HBO Max

HBO Now, the subscription streaming video service launched in 2015, is slowly being absorbed into the HBO brand — and ultimately HBO Max.

WarnerMedia July 30 disclosed it has reached a deal with Amazon for continued support of HBO Now for Amazon Prime members. The new deal, which replaces an agreement set to expire July 31, will give subscribers continued access through a standalone app and via Amazon Channels beginning Aug. 1. The extension mirrors an agreement between WarnerMedia and Roku for HBO Now access on the streaming media device’s platform.

Distribution of HBO Max on Amazon Fire TV and Roku, however, remains unresolved. On AT&T’s fiscal call, CEO John Stankey said about 3 million Max subscribers accessed the platform through WarnerMedia, leaving more than 33 million HBO subs in the U.S. who have yet to activate the free Max app.

Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos July 29 was asked before the House Anti-Trust Subcommittee whether the e-commerce behemoth uses its “gatekeeper” status to extract content and other giveaways from WarnerMedia in exchange for allowing Max on Fire TV.

Bezos said he did not know the details of the negotiations but said he thought a deal would eventually be produced. He said there could be scenarios, “if we’re just talking in the abstract,” where it could be inappropriate for Amazon to withhold access and other scenarios where it would be “very normal business and very appropriate” to deny access.

“I think this is kind of  [negotiating between] two large companies … is kind of normal,” Bezos said.

FandangoNow Launches on Amazon Fire TV Devices

FandangoNow, Fandango’s transactional video-on-demand service, has launched on Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs.

“Fire TV was one of our most requested devices, and we are excited to be able to offer FandangoNow to Amazon customers,” said Cameron Douglas, head of FandangoNow, in a statement.

The move offers users of these devices the ability to watch content purchased or rented from FandangoNow’s online collection of more than 100,000 movies, catalog films and next-day TV shows. New this week on FandangoNow are the critically acclaimed Bombshell and Uncut Gems, both available for purchase, plus Rian Johnson’s Oscar-nominated whodunit Knives Out, newly available for rental.

FandangoNow offers the most comprehensive collection of 4K Ultra HD movies among on-demand video providers, according to the service, and FandangoNow’s 4K content can be streamed on one of Fire TV’s many 4K UHD streaming devices such as the Fire TV Stick 4K or Fire TV Cube. On average, more than 20% of FanangoNow’s movie rentals and sales come from 4K when made available in that format on the service, according to the company.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“At FandangoNow, we want to deliver the highest quality movies and TV shows to our customers on all their devices,” Douglas said in a statement.

In 2019, FandangoNow experienced double-digit growth in both sales and new users, according to the service.

Follow us on Instagram

FandangoNow is also available on Roku, smart TVs from LG, Samsung, Vizio and Xbox, as well as Facebook’s Portal TV and Oculus VR headsets, with a large assortment of 3D titles.

Amazon Working With Cable Group to Incorporate Fire TV

Amazon announced it is working with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) to enable the trade group’s distribution members to deliver Fire TV streaming media players directly to their customers. Amazon claims Fire TV has surpassed more than 40 million active users.

As the cable industry continues to lose subscribers to alternative distgribution channels, including over-the-top video, it is working with OTT players such as Amazon to meld OTT technology with linear TV.

Fire TV, of course, enables users to access Amazon and third-party Internet-based apps through the television.

NCTC has over 750 members, including independent cable and telecommunication operators, delivering service to 16 million broadband and 8 million video customers in the aggregate.

Follow us on Instagram

The cable agreement coincides with Amazon’s expansion of the Fire TV Edition program, designed to give more opportunities for developers, operators, device makers and manufacturers across multiple categories, including automotive, smart TVs, soundbars and streaming media players.

With this expanded Fire TV Edition, the e-commerce giant said it would be easier for device makers to integrate Fire TV into their products, with new tools and services for each category that will enable companies to bring tailored entertainment experiences and great content to their customers.

“At CES 2017, we announced the first Fire TV Edition smart TV,” Marc Whitten, VP of Amazon Fire TV, said in a statement. “Now, just three years later, Fire TV Edition has grown into a worldwide program, which will include more than 150 Fire TV Edition models across more than 10 countries by the end of the year.”

In 2018, Amazon and Best Buy announced an initiative to bring Fire TV Edition TVs to customers in the United States and Canada, and to date, they have sold millions of Insignia and Toshiba Fire TV Edition smart TVs.

“Over the past year, Best Buy has sold millions of Fire TV Edition smart TVs on BestBuy.com, in our stores and as a third-party seller on Amazon.com. We’ve enjoyed working with the Amazon team to bring these high-quality TVs and the incredible Fire TV experience to our customers,” said Luke Motschenbacher,VP of merchandising at Best Buy.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Following the success of Fire TV Edition smart TVs with Best Buy, Amazon announced plans to expand internationally, bringing the next generation of Fire TV Edition devices to customers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Ireland and India.

In 2019, more than 50 Fire TV Edition smart TVs and soundbars have launched from global brands like Grundig, JVC, Onida and Anker and retailers like Best Buy, Currys PC World and Media Markt Saturn (coming 2020).

Amazon will continue its international expansion with more brands launching Fire TV Edition smart TVs in the United States, Canada, India, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Mexico in the coming year.

Fire TV Edition for Soundbars

This past September, Amazon and Anker Innovations announced the Nebula Soundbar–Fire TV Edition, the first Fire TV Edition soundbar featuring an all-in-one home cinema experience with expansive video streaming and stunning sound.

The TCL Alto 8+ Soundbar–Fire TV Edition is now available on Amazon in the United States and Canada. Customers of amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.fr, amazon.it and amazon.es can sign up to be notified when the TCL TS8011 Soundbar–Fire TV Edition is available on Amazon.

Both soundbars are designed to support premium acoustic performance, with carefully tuned speaker drivers and support for Dolby Digital Plus producing clear, dynamic and immersive sound.

Amazon now works with a growing number of device manufacturers including Anker, Polk Audio and Tonly on soundbar solutions. Later this year, Fire TV Edition soundbars will offer new features, including Dolby Atmos support, compatible device control, HDMI switching and far-field voice control, along with partner customizations.

Fire TV Edition for Auto

Building on the success of Fire TV Edition smart TVs and soundbars, Amazon is expanding the program to automakers, partnering with BMW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

With hands-free access to Alexa, touch screen interface and offline playback capabilities, parents and kids alike can enjoy the living room TV experience in the car and watch a wide variety of content and the latest shows from the most popular video services worldwide and shows recorded with Fire TV Recast or saved locally on-device.

Content can be streamed using a vehicle’s Wi-Fi or LTE connection, a mobile hotspot or any other WAN-enabled device.

“Adding Fire TV to future BMW vehicles represents a big step in bringing the best of streamed entertainment to our products. With Amazon’s approach, and with the help of Garmin, we are able to innovate and create a unique and special experience for BMW cars, providing the consistency of content and customer experience that Fire TV provides in the home. We look forward to working closely with Amazon to bring Fire TV to future vehicles,” said Fathi El-Dwaik, VP, User Interaction, Business Line My Car and Business Line My Life, BMW Group.

Fire TV Edition for Operators

Fire TV is also enabling television and telecommunication operators to quickly bring Fire TV Edition devices to their customers in a more customized and cost-effective way.

After successfully introducing Fire TV partnerships with Tata Sky in India and Verizon in the United States, Fire TV is now expanding the device offerings available to operators, allowing them to choose the best solution that fits their customer and business needs as well as providing merchandising opportunities in the Fire TV Edition customer experience.

The Fire TV Edition for Operators is available today in North America, Europe, India and Japan.

Fire TV Edition — Certified Solutions Providers

Fire TV is enabling partners across a variety of industries and categories to work with certified solutions providers to rapidly bring the latest Fire TV Edition devices to customers. Amazon currently works with a growing number of TV manufacturers who produce Fire TV Edition smart TVs. Vestel, Arcelik, Compal, TPV and others can now build Fire TV Edition smart TVs for their customers with manufacturing and assembly capabilities around the world.

Amazon announced that Skyworth is the latest global ODM with turnkey solutions for smart TVs. These turnkey solutions enable Skyworth and other ODMs to work with the world’s leading TV brands to bring high-quality, differentiated, cost-effective 4K and FHD smart TVs to customers.

Starting in India, brands can choose from a selection of manufacturers with various industrial design and price options to bring an entire lineup of smart TVs to customers.

The turnkey ODM solution offered in collaboration with Amazon includes out-of-the-box reference designs, schematics and boards designed with CVTE, a leading LCD TV mainboard provider for feature-rich 4K and FHD smart TVs; self-service tools and software customizations, such as settings SDK for custom picture and audio settings; and customized industrial design and hardware options.

“We are excited to build a scalable, worldwide smart TV program with Fire TV Edition,” said Tony Wang, CEO of Skyworth TV Business Division. “ODMs & OEMs can offer customers the choice of a top-rated smart TV software experience along with the speed, value and high-quality hardware that they always expect from Skyworth.”

Finally, for auto partners, Amazon is working with system integrators VOXX Automotive and Garmin to deliver solutions and services that can significantly accelerate the development cycle for automakers.

“By working with Amazon to enable Fire TV for in-vehicle entertainment, we have been able to create a reference implementation that automotive OEMs can build into their vehicle programs and bring all of the rich entertainment of Fire TV into automotive grade installations,” said Ed Mas, President, VOXX Automotive, a division of VOXX International Corp.

 

Amazon Upping Ad-Supported Video Options for Non-Prime Subscribers

Amazon Prime Video, along with Netflix and Hulu, remains among the top subscription-based video-on-demand streaming platforms in the United States and around the world.

But the e-commerce behemoth is quietly increasing efforts around its ad-supported VOD subsidiary, IMDb TV, and streaming media devices such as Fire TV.

In the third quarter, Amazon announced more than 20 new Fire TV products, including the first Fire TV Edition soundbar; the updated Fire TV Cube; the first OLED Fire TV Edition smart TV; and the first Fire TV Edition smart TV with far-field Alexa voice control.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Amazon also expanded the lineup of content for Fire TV customers, including the recently announced YouTube TV app, Apple TV app, and the free News app. In Q3, Fire TV announced more than 37 million active users worldwide and continues to be the No. 1 selling family of streaming media players in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and India, according to Amazon.

Speaking on the fiscal call, Dave Fildes, director of investor relations, said Amazon is slowly increasing ad-supported video access, including third-party brand access.

“It’s still early in this space, but we’ve done a few things with IMDb TV, live sports [‘NFL Thursday Night Football’], things like adding more inventory through Fire TV apps, adding more OTT video supply through Amazon Publisher Services or APS integrations and streamlining access for third party apps and really just making it easier for advertisers to manage their campaigns and provide better results,” Fildes said.

Apple TV App Now Available on Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Oct. 24 announced that Fire TV users in more than 60 countries can download the Apple TV app — affording first-time access to iTunes movies, TV shows and channels purchased.

The app will enable Fire TV users on Nov. 1 to subscribe to Apple TV +, Apple’s new SVOD service featuring original and catalog programming, including “The Morning Show,” “Dickinson,” “See,” “For All Mankind” and “The Elephant Queen.”

The announcement is significant as it underscores Apple’s willingness to expand beyond its branded iOS ecosystem.

Viewers can also use the Alexa Voice Remote or a paired Echo device for far-field voice control.

The Apple TV app is available for Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen) and Fire TV Stick 4K, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and India. Fire TV Basic Edition can also start using the app in more than 50 countries, including Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Brazil, Ireland and Mexico.

The app will be coming soon to the Fire TV Cube (1st- and 2nd-gen), Fire TV (3rd-gen pendant design), Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Nebula sound bar.

Amazon Bows New Fire Tablet Enabling Picture-in-Picture Streaming

Millennials love to multitask. So, Amazon Oct. 7 introduced updated Fire HD tablets that includes a kids’ model and affords users picture-in-picture functionality to stream Netflix while browsing the Web.

Notable to Fire HD 10 tablet ($149.99) features picture-in-picture functionality enabling users to stream videos from Prime Video, Twitch, Netflix, Lionsgate-owned Starz, and more, while also browsing the Internet, checking email, reviewing their calendar, or visiting Facebook.

The kids tablet features a childproof case, parental controls and retails for $199.99.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The devices include a 10.1” widescreen Full HD 1080p display (1920 x 1200) with more than 2 million pixels (224 ppi) for bright, vivid image quality; a new octa-core 2.0 GHz processor and 2 GB RAM; stronger battery and storage starting at 32GB or 64GB, and support for up to 512 GB of expandable storage via microSD.

Fire tablets also include Alexa voice-controlled software, front and rear facing cameras, free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire tablets.

FreeTime is free on every Fire tablet—or subscribe to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited to access over 20,000 titles, starting at just $2.99 per month.

“We’ve made our best tablet even better with a faster processor, longer battery life, and faster charging,” Kevin Keith, VP, Amazon Devices, said in a statement. “The all-new Fire HD 10 has everything you need for entertainment with plenty of storage for your favorite videos, games, music, and books at home or on the go—and still under $150.”

Amazon also announced a new Kindle Kids Edition comes with these kid friendly featuring “Achievement Badges” where kids can earn badges like Book Worm and Over Achiever when they make progress towards pre-defined goals.

Enhanced browsing and search, kids can locate titles without the exact spelling. And with smart recommendations, kids can find books related to the genres, authors, and characters they love.

Kids are automatically provided short and simple definitions above difficult words, so they can keep reading with fewer interruptions.

If kids come across a difficult word, they can select the word to look up the definition via the built-in Kindle dictionary.

Words looked up in dictionaries are automatically added to Vocabulary Builder and turned into flashcards for future review and learning.

Devices include a unique set of lock screen wallpapers, specifically designed for kids.

“Kindle Kids Edition makes reading fun with achievement badges to help motivate readers to complete the next chapter, plus features like Word Wise and Vocabulary Builder are designed to help early readers build their reading and comprehension skills,” Kurt Beidler, director of kids and family, said. “With unlimited access to over a thousand new and popular books in FreeTime Unlimited, kids can easily find books to match their interests and can bring a library of books with them wherever they go—all on a single, lightweight device.”