Amazon added a live channel interface, which includes a traditional grid-style program guide and an “On Now” row on the home screen, to all Fire TV devices at the start of the year. At the time, it was so subscribers of Prime Video Channels could easily find and watch content that was airing live. More recently, Amazon partnered with PlayStation Vue to add the service’s channel catalog to the same live channel interface, giving subscribers a single place to find both Prime Video Channels and PlayStation Vue channels. Now Amazon has worked with Pluto TV to add 12 free news channels to the Fire TV’s live channel interface.
With this new Pluto TV channel integration, this is the first time that free channels have been available on the Fire TV’s live channel interface. For customers who have never owned a Fire TV Edition television and are not subscribers of PlayStation Vue or Prime Video Channels, this will be your first chance to try out the Fire TV’s live channel interface, which will also heavily be used by the upcoming Fire TV Recast.
To add these free channels, simply install and launch the Pluto TV app on your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. Your device may need to be on the latest Fire TV software version for the channels to appear, which is version 126.96.36.199 for the Fire TV Cube and Fire TV 3 (pendant) and version 188.8.131.52 for Fire TV Sticks and older Fire TV models. Once Pluto TV is installed, a new “On Now” row should appear on the Fire TV home screen with a list of content that is currently airing.
Even though Pluto TV offers over 100 free channels, only 12 of their news channels are being made available on the Fire TV’s live channel interface and they’re all news channels. It’s unknown if additional channels will be added in the future. The available channels are Bloomberg TV, CBS News, Cheddar, CNBC, NBC News, News 24/7, Newsmax TV, Pluto TV Election, Sky News, Today’s Top Story, Top Stories by Newsy, and TYT Network.
On the far left of the “On Now” row is a shortcut to the Fire TV’s live channel program guide. You can also get to the guide by pressing the menu button on the Fire TV remote while watching any live channel and selecting the channel guide from the menu that appears in the lower right corner. In the channel guide, you can see what is airing on each channel. You can also add channels to your list of favorites, which makes the channel appear at the top of the program guide.
If you’ve never used the Fire TV’s live channel interface, you might be surprised to learn that when you select to view a Pluto TV channel, it does not use the regular Pluto TV interface. Instead, the content is streamed from the Pluto TV app but with the Fire TV’s own live channel interface. This makes it easy to switch between live content from different apps. While watching a live channel, you can press down on the Fire TV remote to start browsing through your other channels without leaving what you’re currently watching.
You can manage the new Pluto TV live channels from the Fire TV’s new Live TV settings menu. There you’ll see that Pluto TV is now listed as a Live TV Source. Selecting the Channel Management menu will list the 12 Pluto TV news channels and allow you to manage your favorite channels or hide individual channels altogether. The Fire TV’s live channel interface is also integrated into the device’s parental controls, so you can set it so a PIN is required before viewing any of the live channels.
Amazon does not yet have any documentation or method for content providers and app developers to add their own channels into the Fire TV’s live channel interface. For now, it seems like Amazon is only working directly with content providers, like Pluto TV and PlayStation Vue, to include channels in the Fire TV’s live channel interface. Hopefully, we’ll see the addition of more live streaming services integrated in the near future.