Dish became the first U.S. pay TV provider to integrate with Alexa for hands-free TV back in May, when it introduced a way for Hopper and Wally DVR users to search for programs and control their playback experience using their voice. Today, the company says it’s expanding this support to its Joey clients, meaning Dish customers can now take advantage of voice control throughout their home.
The Joey clients are Dish’s add-on receivers that allow you to extend Dish’s TV service to other rooms in your home without the need for a separate DVR. The current Hopper 3 DVR supports up to six Joey receivers, while older generations support up to three, Dish notes.
By adding Alexa support to these devices, Echo owners can now control other TVs beyond the living room – for instance, they could use their Echo Dot to control their bedroom TV or one in the kid’s room.
Once configured, Dish owners can ask Alexa to do things like change the channel, find a favorite program or movie, search by genres, or fast forward, rewind, pause or resume live TV.
This sort of functionality is also available today through Amazon Fire TV, but Amazon introduced similar support to third-party device makers earlier this year, as well as TV providers and streaming services. Dish was the first TV provider in the U.S. to take advantage of the new functionality, while overseas, NetGem and U.K.-based YouView were among the early adopters.
Support for hands-free TV could help retain pay TV subscribers in an era where cord cutting is rapidly accelerating, as customers won’t have to switch to using a streaming device like Fire TV to use Alexa – a change that can encourage cord cutting, given Fire TV’s support for live TV streaming services, subscription video apps, and Amazon’s add-on channels.
Dish says its integrations work with Amazon Echo, Echo Show and Echo Dot devices, and each Dish set-top box must be paired with its own Echo to work.
With the addition of Joey, the current lineup of Dish devices that work with Alexa include Hopper (all generations) and its Joey, Wireless Joey, 4K Joey and Super Joey clients, as well as DISH’s Wally single-tuner HD receiver.
“DISH is again championing TV voice control, this time by extending our Alexa compatibility to create a more fully-integrated experience throughout the home,” said Niraj Desai, Dish’s vice president of product management, in a statement. “Our customers now have the freedom to ask Alexa for help finding shows and movies in every room where their families enjoy watching TV.”