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This is How Amazon, Google, & Comcast Are Thinking About The Battle For Your Living Room

Jason Gurwin

At The Pay TV Show, executives from Amazon, Google, Comcast, LG, and Arris discussed how they are thinking about streaming devices are impacting your living room. Jennifer Prenner, Global Head of Marketing for Amazon Fire TV said, “There’s significant demand for standalone of streaming. In fact Fire TV has been the #1 streaming player in all our core countries, including the U.S.”

Many on the panel feel that built-in voice capabilities are important for the future of streaming devices. Prenner said that streaming devices “have to evolve, like the Fire TV Cube with far-field capabilities.” Jon Stewart, Head of Partnerships for Android TV, says operators are looking “to add far-field to the set-top box, so you don’t need a secondary device for voice.”

In fact, while they don’t think the remote is going away, many of them felt that voice control is the future of input on these devices. “It let’s you search for things that you wouldn’t normally be able to search for,” said Brynn Lev, VP of Programming and Editorial, Comcast.

Stewart feels that “the set-top box is the center of the home.” Charlie Cheevers from Arris, views the TV as the “portal for the living room” and the set-top box is the “input mechanism for the device.” It is now more than just streaming, “It can help you with all smart home and see who’s at the door,” said Prenner.

When discussing how they can improve the set-top experience — it comes down to discoverability. Lev said, “There are more choices than ever, and we have integrated these into X1. I think it’s a continuation of making of those aware of the content and more discoverable.”

Amazon’s Jennifer Prenner says “the challenge is that a lot of content providers don’t want to give customers data to give recommendations.” Fortunately, for Amazon, they can use data from Prime Video as a proxy for what customers want. The company has also developed new features like “On Now” which can surface content for each partner. This is what Prenner described as Fire TV’s “content first experience.”

Ultimately, Google’s Jon Stewart thinks set-top boxes need to solve “the biggest complaint for customers” which is finding all of the content they want to watch in one place. “We going to search across all our catalog and find what you’re entitled to,” said Prenner. “Some talk about input 1 a bit, we talk about input 0. We want to be where you are when the customer turns on the TV.”

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