DirecTV is joining TiVo and rival satcaster Dish in adding compatibility with the Amazon Alexa voice skill in select satellite set-up boxes.

Although the capability was originally announced back in March, DirecTV becomes the latest to add the capability to equipment in the field. Both Dish and TiVo have previously updated select equipment to accept Alexa voice commands through compatible smart speakers. Dish has also added support for rival Google Assistant capability.

By integrating with Amazon’s Video Skill API, DirecTV owners with an Alexa smart speaker from Amazon or an Amazon speaker partner and a compatible Genie HR44, HR54, Genie 2 and/or Genie Mini set-top box can use their voice to change the TV channel by calling out the channel name or number or pause, fast forward or rewind any live TV, or DVR recordings.

DirecTV subscribers will have to connect their DirecTV account to Alexa using any of a number of Alexa-enabled speakers or input devices, like the Echo, Fire TV Cube (pictured at top), or a mobile app, to accept spoken commands that will be relayed to the linked DirecTV box.

The new recording capability recently added to the Video Skill API allows viewers to manage DVR recordings with their voice, so that a customer can ask, Alexa to “record the Mets game,” and the DirecTV DVR will follow through.

Additionally, a launcher capability makes it easy to call up commonly used menu and navigation shortcuts such as Guide, Home and DVR. Now a DirecTV customer can also ask, Alexa to launch an OTT app on a connected smart TV to access, for example, Prime Video.

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Alternatively, DirecTV subscribers can open a favorite app and then use an Amazon Echo or other Alexa device to issue commands like “Alexa, find comedies,” “Alexa, tune to HBO,” or “Alexa, play episodes of “Wicked Tuna.” DirecTV customers can then view the programming on their favorie device.

DirecTV revealed that the Video Skill API also gives DirecTV a mechanism to enable catalog ingestion for improved accuracy and session management for request targeting based on real usage. Amazon said the API offers simplified logic to handle requests to any one of potentially multiple video skills that a customer has set up.


By Greg Tarr


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