Amazon’s Echo speaker and 4K Fire TV just got much better at handling around-the-house tasks. The Fire TV now controls smart home devices with a simple voice command — you can ask it to dim the lights right before you start a movie. It’ll search for local businesses and restaurants, too, in case you want to get some sushi when you’re done watching. The Echo already has these features, but you can now ask it when a TV show starts to make sure you catch that big season premiere. Both the Echo and Fire TV upgrades are relatively straightforward, but they’ll mean a lot if you’re tired of bringing out your phone to ask simple questions.
Normally, signing up for a streaming video service only gives you the content from that service, leaving you heading elsewhere when a TV network decides to hoard all its shows. If rumors are true, though, Amazon Prime Video may soon offer a lot more in one place. Bloomberg sources hear that Amazon will give you the option to add other subscription services to your account, and show their video libraries alongside its own. Just who’s interested isn’t clear, but Amazon is reportedly lining up “major, well-known” movie and TV channels for a launch that could happen as early as December.
You won’t have too much longer to wait to see how HBO handles Sesame Street. The network says it’s launching the 46th season of the kids’ show on January 16th, 2016 at 9AM (Eastern and Pacific). You’ll have streaming access to five years’ worth of episodes on both HBO Go and HBO Now, too. Just be prepared for a different experience than you remember from your childhood. Sesame Street pisodes will run 30 minutes instead of a full hour (ostensibly to help kids “focus”), and there are “updates” to both the show’s iconic opening as well as the homes of its best-known characters.
Source: HBO PR (Medium)
It looks like TiVo Roamio owners won’t need to buy an upgraded box for the new SkipMode feature. Zatz Not Funny points out info on TiVo’s website promising SkipMode will come to older Roamio DVRs on December 10th, which the company confirmed in a statement to Engadget. Starting today, a software update is going out that enabled QuickMode sped-up viewing on the Roamio. Meanwhile, a limited test will only let older boxes in the Bay Area and Chicago access SkipMode, for now (it’s available nationwide on the Bolt). In case you’re not familiar, SkipMode lets users bypass ad breaks on selected shows (prime time broadcasts on certain national networks) just by pressing the green button on their remote. At least so far, it has avoided any legal issues seen by Dish Network’s Hopper technology, and hopefully will continue to work as advertised. When I reviewed the Bolt, I found my favorite way to use it was skipping any stray seconds recorded before a show starts, so I could leap to the actual beginning.
Source: Zatz Not Funny
Your Fire TV (or Fire TV Stick) just became much more useful as a cord-cutting device… at least, if you watch a lot of CBS shows. The TV network has launched an Amazon-native app for its All Access service, giving your Fire TV the same mix of live and on-demand viewing that CBS is offering on rival set-top boxes. You’re still paying $6 per month and don’t get any hardware-specific features, but look at it this way: you’ll definitely be ready when the new Star Trek series begins streaming in a couple of years.
Source: CBS Interactive
Amazon’s original series have been on quite the run as of late, and the online retailer wants to help both aspiring and established screenwriters get their work discovered. To do just that, the company has Amazon Screenwriter: a free cloud-based app for creating screenplays for movies and television. The software provides an alternative for requisite apps that can be somewhat pricey. Of course, Amazon isn’t the first to offer a free option, with the likes of Trelby and Celtx already doing so. The Screenwriter app automatically formats as you type and supports import/export of PDF, FDX and Fountain file formats. While writers are online, work is saved in the cloud as they go and a Chrome app for Mac and PC allows for offline productivity.
As the BBC continues to streamline its operations following a less than glowing government review, the broadcaster has announced a fresh round of cuts that it says will “address a shortfall” of £150 million in what it believes is lost money. It comes from what we know as the “iPlayer loophole,” which lets viewers avoid paying the licence fee by watching on-demand programming only. While the Beeb works with the government to close it, the company says it will cut management positions and reduce back office staff, but also look into whether it could phase out important services like the Red Button.
Source: BBC Media Centre
Who said that TVs with Google Play Movies & TV had to be running Android? Certainly not LG. It just announced that many of its recent smart TVs (including both webOS– and NetCast-based models) will offer Google Play streaming this month. While it’s not as if you’ve been hurting for viewing options on any of these sets, this could be extremely useful if you prefer to buy or rent movies and want to sync your viewing between your smartphone and a big screen. TV shows will only be available on launch in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, but you’ll find movies in a whopping 104 countries.
Source: LG Newsroom
If you want to give SeeSo a shot before signing up, you’ll get your chance next month. NBC’s comedy streaming service will be available as a limited free public beta starting December 3rd. During the web-only trial period, viewers can expect to watch classics from Monty Python, including The Flying Circus, The Meaning of Life, Holy Grail, and Life of Brian. There’s also the likes of 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Saved By the Bell, and both the US and UK versions of The Office. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to check it out, episodes of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers will be available the day after they air alongside 40 years of Saturday Night Live sketches.
CBS isn’t the only major network getting into the exclusive content game. According to Variety, ABC is planning to do the same. The programming will be available through WatchABC and the first show is said to be a scripted project starring stand-up comedian Iliza Shlesinger. You might remember Shlesinger from her Netflix specials. What’s more, the network doesn’t plan to use the new platform only as a means of keeping its properties to itself, but rather a testing grounds of sorts. If a show does well there, it could make the jump to primetime. If you’ll recall, WatchABC provides live TV broadcasts (in some markets) and access to both to new and past episodes of shows, some of which require a paid subscription. Details are scarce on how much of the new exclusive content will require a pay TV plan, but this report follows similar moves by other networks.