Amazon added the ability for Alexa to start playing content on the Fire TV over a year ago, but it has been limited to movies and shows from Amazon Video. Last month, they announced that the feature would soon be extended to other services. That capability is starting to roll out because you can now ask Alexa to directly play content from Netflix on the Fire TV.
If you ask Alexa, either through the Fire TV voice remote or through an external Alexa device like the Amazon Echo Dot, to play a movie that is available only on Netflix, previously, you would see a search result for that movie appear on the Fire TV. Now, the movie begins playing in the Netflix app without you needing to press any buttons.
It does not seem like the capability for Alexa to directly play content from third-party apps on the Fire TV is finished, because there are many instances when you expect it to directly play content but it ends up still only showing a search result for the content. The feature is very hit or miss, but it’s definitely moving in the right direction. It’s still worth using because you’re often only a single button press away from the content you wanted to play when it doesn’t work to play the content directly.
I have only been able to get Alexa to directly start playing movies from Netflix and not TV shows. Even with movies, it doesn’t always work. Movies such as London Has Fallen, Chappie, Hot Fuzz, and Doctor Strange work perfectly and immediately begin playing in Netflix when asking Alexa, regardless of what is on the Fire TV at the moment. Asking to play The Pursuit of Happyness, which is a movie available on both Prime Video and Netflix, brings up a search result instead of playing from either service.
The new capability definitely still needs some work. Asking to play Finding Dory, which is available on Netflix, only brings up the option to purchase the movie from Amazon Video. That’s because there are two separate listings for the movie in Amazon’s universal search catalog. The listing on Amazon Video includes “(Plus Bonus Content)” in the movie title, while the listing on Netflix includes “(Theatrical Version)” in the title. Alexa always tries to play the “(Plus Bonus Content)” version when asked. Ideally, Alexa and the Fire TV should favor results from services that you’re already subscribed to when asking to directly play content.
Once it’s fully rolled out and content providers have updated their apps to support this new capability, Alexa will be able to directly play content on the Fire TV from many more services. A few that are expected to also adopt the feature include Hulu, Showtime, PlayStation Vue, CBS, NBC, Bravo, CNBC, and NBC News. Since it’s already partially working with Netflix, directly playing content from third-party apps will likely become more and more available over time, instead of all at once.