YouView users could soon be able to control their set top boxes by voice control thanks to a new partnership with Amazon.
The two firms today announced a pilot which could eventually allow any of YouView’s 2.4m users who also own one of Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers to play programmes and change channels just by issuing a spoken command to Alexa, the online retailer’s voice activated assistant.
Under the partnership, YouView will become one of the first developers worldwide to work with the new Alexa Video Skill API and will harness the power of its cloud infrastructure to make it easier for viewers to interact with content and apps.
Launched in 2012, YouView provides access to free-to-air channels over a standard aerial alongside access to the UK’s most popular catch-up and video on demand services, such as iPlayer and ITV Hub.
In addition TalkTalk and BT, two of YouView’s backers, provide a range of subscription channels over their broadband networks.
“We’re excited to be working with YouView to create a hands-free television experience through Alexa,” said Fabrice Rousseau, General Manager, Alexa Skills Kit EU.
“Voice control of TV will make customers’ lives easier—it’s a natural way to find the content you want, and will reduce the time you spend looking for the remote or finding the right channel. Just ask Alexa, and she’ll take care of it for you.”
Fani Sazaklidou, Executive Creative and Brand Director of YouView added: “We are delighted to be one of the first to work with Amazon to enable a video voice skill via Alexa.
“It is a great and very natural next step on YouView’s journey, extending the value of our cloud based ‘Next Generation’ platform, which we have successfully rolled out to over two million homes.
“The deep integration will mean that YouView viewers can simply say ‘Change the channel to BT Sport 1’, ‘Go to More TV’ or ‘Play Eastenders’ to watch their favourite content.”
Today’s news is likely to fuel speculation that Amazon’s increasingly popular video streaming service, Prime Video, will join rivals Netflix and NOW TV on YouView set top boxes.
In a bid to better compete with Netflix, Amazon has invested heavily in new content including Jeremy Clarkson’s The Grand Tour and The Man in the High Castle.
SEENIT understands that talks to get the service onto the YouView platform have been underway for some time and that BT hopes to replicate its deal with Netflix which allows it to charge customers for the service on their standard phone and broadband bill.
Such a deal would allow the ISP to drastically expand the range of 4K content available to subscribers without bidding against Amazon, Netflix and Sky for programming rights.