I have begun my dissection of the new 18.104.22.168 software update for the Amazon Fire TV and have found strong evidence that support for live streaming video from Amazon is coming to the device. Deep in the code are newly added buttons and styling which mark videos in the main Fire TV interface as “On Now” with accompanying “Watch Live” buttons. Additionally, there are new references in the code to “Live Stations” and “Live Channels” which seem to indicate that, when the functionality arrives, it won’t just be individual live shows, but rather, continuous live programming.
With the recent debut of Style Code Live, Amazon’s first original live show, it’s expected the Fire TV would eventually gain live streaming capabilities. It appears that, when such a show is airing live, users will see a “Watch Live” button in place of the usual “Watch Now” button they see today for on-demand content. Shows being streamed live will also list their “Original Air Date”, which seems to indicate that not all programming streamed live will actually be happening live. There will also be DVR functionality that allows you to pause/rewind live video and then jump back to the live stream at anytime. If you start watching after a show has already started, you’ll still be able to rewind, although the exact wording that I found says “Play Video from Earliest Available Time”, which seems to indicate there is a limit to how far you can rewind.
More interesting than individual live shows is the inclusion of live channels. The new code added makes a distinction between a “live item”, which I presume would be something like the show Style Code Live, and a “live channel”, which is a sequence of scheduled live shows. Live channels will appear in the Fire TV interface alongside on-demand content, but will be labeled as live programming. Selecting a live channel will provide information for what is currently streaming live, as well as what will stream next.
Amazon has reportedly been talking to major media companies like CBS and NBC about a new pay-TV service that they’re working on. The appears of this new code in the latest Fire TV software update could indicate that such a service is nearing a launch date.
Support for live shows and channels on the Fire TV does not appear to be complete. It’s not uncommon for remnants of an upcoming feature to make it into a software update, which is what appears to be the case here. I have not, for example, found any indication of a program guide or subscription mechanism, which are items you’d expect to see with a pay-TV service, but that’s not to say they aren’t going to be included.
A live pay-TV service would nicely compliment Amazon’s on demand Prime content, as well as their ever growing list of add-on subscription content. We’ll have to see if Amazon can land the necessary deals with major media companies that other companies have been unable to score.