SEATTLE – Amazon is debuting its new Alexa-controlled TV device called Fire TV Cube on June 21.
The cube is a media player that can control a TV from across the room and integrate with a compatible TV, sound bar, audio-video receiver, and cable or satellite box – and can be used to turn a TV on and off, change the volume, switch inputs, and change channels, all by voice.
Marc Whitten, vice president of Fire TV, says, “It’s just the beginning. Amazon Fire TV Cube will only get better over time with the Alexa service always getting smarter.”
The cube also has eight microphones and advanced beaming technology and is compatible with set-top boxes from Comcast, Dish, and DirectTV. The device, which started preorders last week, sells for $120 – or $90 for Prime members.
Some say the move solidifies Amazon’s place between Netflix and Hulu as the second biggest subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service in the U.S.
“As it does with retail, grocery stores and subscription VOD, Amazon looms large over the pay-TV business,” says Ben Munson, editor at FierceCable.com. “It’s becoming clearer that Amazon could even further extend its reach into the industry.”
Munson adds that Amazon has built arguably the most successful model for à la carte TV with Amazon Channels. “Amazon has clearly already established itself as a friend of and sometimes formidable competitor with the traditional television universe,” Munson says.
And he believes it can go farther toward either joining or disrupting that landscape. “That balance will continue to shift as Amazon delves deeper into pay TV,” he says.
Another industry insider, Parks Associates’ Brett Sappington, said during the Pay TV Show last month in Denver that Amazon is the only company to get à la carte TV right and that the company could simply begin offering full pay-TV subscriptions as part of its Prime memberships.
Sappington added that Amazon could afford to give away local broadcast and cable channels for free if it can figure out how to effectively tie its retail offering to that proposition. "Fundamentally, Amazon sees itself as a retailer," Sappington said.