Amazon expands Fire TV reach in deals with TV providers, automakers

Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV now runs on more than 50 TV and soundbar models in more than 10 countries. (Amazon)

Amazon today announced a new Fire TV Edition expansion that will open its streaming device and smart TV platform to more verticals including automobiles.

Fire TV, which the company said now counts more than 40 million active users, now runs on more than 50 TV and soundbar models in more than 10 countries. The company is working with partners including Grundig, JVC, Onida, and Anker and retailers like Best Buy, Dixons, and MediaMarketSaturn, and plans to launch more Fire TV Edition smart TVs in the United States, Canada, India, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Mexico in 2020.

Starting today, the TCL Alto 8+ Soundbar–Fire TV Edition is available on Amazon in the United States and Canada and the TCL TS8011 Soundbar–Fire TV Edition is available on Amazon in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Later this year, Amazon intends to add features including Dolby Atmos support, device control, HDMI switching and far-field voice control to its Fire TV Edition soundbars.

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Amazon is also partnering with automakers including BMW and Fiat Chrysler Automotive to offer hands-free access to Alexa, touch-screen interfaces and offline playback capabilities to allow drivers to access content from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and FreeTime (a multimedia subscription service for kids) while in the car. Users can also get shows recorded with Fire TV Recast or saved locally on-device and content can be streamed using a vehicle’s Wi-Fi or LTE connection, a mobile hotspot or a WAN-enabled device.

“Adding Fire TV to future BMW vehicles represents a big step in bringing the best of streamed entertainment to our products. With Amazon’s approach, and with the help of Garmin, we are able to innovate and create a unique and special experience for BMW cars, providing the consistency of content and customer experience that Fire TV provides in the home,” said Fathi El-Dwaik, vice president of user Interaction for the BMW Group, in a statement.

Amazon is also aiming for more Fire TV partnerships with pay TV providers. After setting Fire TV partnerships with Tata Sky in India and Verizon in the United States, Fire TV is expanding the device offerings available to operators. The company is working with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) so its members can sell low-cost Fire TV streaming media players directly to their customers. NCTC has over 750 members, including independent cable and telecommunication operators.

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Amazon is also rolling out a new Fire TV certification program for partners across different verticals. The company announced Skyworth as a global original design manufacturer with turnkey solutions for smart TVs. Skyworth will begin in India and work with device manufacturers, allowing them to choose from various industrial design and price options for launching Fire TV Edition smart TVs. Options include reference designs; schematics and boards designed with CVTE; self-service tools and software customizations such as settings SDK for custom picture and audio settings; and customized industrial design and hardware options.

Amazon is also working with VOXX Automotive and Garmin to build products and services for its Fire TV Edition automaker partners.

Amazon announced its first Fire TV Edition smart TVs with Element and Westinghouse at CES in 2017. Progress in expanding the program was slow that year but 2018 saw new agreements with Toshiba and Best Buy. Near the end of 2019 and into 2020, Amazon has significantly ramped up its domestic and international Fire TV partnership program as it works to keep pace with Roku’s booming smart TV platform business.