The AI Revolution Is on TV

Amazon and Comcast have announced the inclusion of new AI interfaces for their respective products, Fire TV and Xumo TV. Interestingly enough, Amazon’s Alexa & Fire TV VP Daniel Rausch told newsletter Lowpass that smart TVs were not meeting consumer expectations, pointing out that many users end up plugging Amazon’s Fire TV sticks into these TVs. He revealed that over 80% of the time, Fire TV sticks are used with TVs that already have built-in apps, indicating that these “so-called smart TVs” are not as effective or smart as they claim to be. Amazon can identify the make and model of the TVs their devices are connected to via the HDMI CEC protocol.

Source: Amazon

Comcast’s recent update to its Xumo TV smart televisions integrates artificial intelligence to streamline access to desired programming. The platform now features “edge-to-edge” background imagery that adapts based on the selected content, creating a more immersive viewing experience. This update also allows users to customize the apps row, enabling easier access to frequently watched applications. Additionally, the channel guide has been elevated to the third row within the interface, reducing the number of clicks required to find live TV content.

The new user interface of Xumo TV prominently displays key information, such as show synopses, durations, and ratings, without requiring additional clicks. This change aims to help users make quicker decisions about what to watch. Progress bars have also been introduced, providing a visual indicator of how much of a program has been watched and what remains, as well as showing this information in the channel guide for live programming.

Personalized recommendations and editorial highlights are now a staple of the Xumo TV interface. These features offer suggestions tailored to each viewer, with contextual highlights such as trending movies on subscribed streaming services or new seasons of previously watched series.

Similarly, Amazon has enhanced its Fire TV platform with an AI-powered search feature utilizing Alexa. This new feature leverages a large language model (LLM) to provide personalized TV show and movie recommendations based on natural language queries. Users can ask Alexa for content suggestions in the same way they might consult a well-informed friend, with the ability to search by topic, genre, plot, character, actor, and even specific quotes.

For instance, users can ask, “Show me psychological thrillers with surprise endings,” or, “What movie has the line, ‘You’re killing me Smalls?'” This AI-enhanced search aims to reduce the time users spend searching for content, addressing a common pain point highlighted in Nielsen’s 2023 State of Play report, which noted that the average streaming customer spends over 10 minutes searching for options each session.

The new Fire TV search experience, which began rolling out in the US, is designed to provide contextual and personalized recommendations, incorporating content from Prime Video and other streaming subscriptions, ensuring users can easily find options that are free with their existing subscriptions.