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Amazon Enables Video Providers to Control Content with the Video Skill API - a New Addition to the Alexa Skills Kit

By David Isbitski, Amazon

June 08, 2017

Today we announced the Video Skill API, a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit, which enables developers to add capabilities, called skills, to Alexa. Companies can now teach Alexa how to interface with their video content and services. This means you can build experiences that allow your customers to easily find and consume video content without invoking a specific skill. For example, a customer could say, “Alexa, play Manchester by the Sea” without specifying a provider or device. Through the Video Skill API, Alexa is aware of the video devices and services your customer has or subscribes to. You create skills that connect your applications directly to Alexa’s video capabilities so that customers can control your content—without lifting a finger.

Customers are increasingly using voice interfaces as a hands-free way to manage their lives. By using Alexa’s built-in video content controls, customers on millions of Alexa devices only have to "ask" for your content and it's at their command, often becoming a daily habit. By integrating with the Video Skill API, you will make it easier for your existing customers to engage with your video content in their home.

How It Works

The Video Skill API is available at the same top level that Alexa uses to build video experiences on Fire TV. This means your customers can open their favorite app and then use their Amazon Echo or other Alexa device to issue commands like “Alexa, find comedies,” “Alexa, tune to HBO,” or “Alexa, play episodes of Modern Family.” Customers can see the commands fulfilled instantly on their preferred streaming video devices.

The Video Skill API also includes a mechanism to enable catalog ingestion for improved accuracy and session management for request targeting based on real usage. The API offers simplified logic to handle requests to any one of potentially multiple video skills that a customer has set up, so your customers can make simple requests like ‘Alexa, Play Manchester by the Sea,’ and Alexa will know what to do.

How Companies Are Using the Video Skill API

Companies like DISH, Netgem, and YouView are already creating experiences using the Video Skill API.

  • DISH has enabled customers with an internet-connected Hopper or Wally to navigate, play, pause, fast-forward, rewind and search content based on channel, title, actor, or genre—just by asking Alexa.
  • Netgem, an entertainment solution provider for telecoms operators, has created its own Alexa skill enabling content discovery and Set-Top Box control with voice. This skill will be available soon in the UK.
  • YouView is using the Video Skill API to pilot a voice-controlled TV experience that makes it even easier for viewers to interact with their broad range of content and apps. Viewers can search for their favorite content, navigate the YouView user interface, play content and use trick play, all without having to lift a finger.

Get Started Now

For more information on how to create a video skill, read our getting started blog. For more information about the Video Skill API and the Alexa Skills Kit, you can also check out the following resources:


Build a Skill, Get an Echo Dot

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) enables developers to build capabilities, called skills, for Alexa. ASK is a collection of self-service APIs, documentation, tools, and code samples that make it fast and easy for anyone to add skills to Alexa. 

Developers have built more than 13,000 skills with ASK. Explore the stories behind some of these innovations, then start building your own skill. Once you publish your skill, apply to receive a free Echo Dot. This promotion is available in the US only. Check out our promotions in the UK, Germany, and India

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