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Controlling pay TV with Alexa might be the best reason to keep pay TV

Published May 22nd, 2017 1:41PM EDT
Dish Hopper Alexa Skill

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The pay TV market has clearly seen better days. Subscriber counts continue to drop across the board as television service providers struggle to convince customers that there’s enough value to stop them from cutting the cord. By combining affordable services like Netflix and Hulu with free live network TV in 1080p HD courtesy of a simple HDTV antenna, pay TV truly is a tough sell. But Dish Network just gave subscribers a fairly compelling reason to stick with its service: The ability to control live TV and DVR features on the Hopper with Alexa voice commands.

Dish’s Hopper set-top box has always been a cut above the competition in many ways. It was the first box to offer automatic commercial skipping for primetime television shows, and it has offered a number of other firsts over the years. Now, The Hopper’s appeal is getting another big boost thanks to Amazon’s white-hot Alexa assistant.

Dish on Monday announced the addition of Alexa support to the Hopper, the company’s main box, and to its Wally set-top boxes. Here’s a list of just some of the commands that are now supported:

  • “Alexa, change channel to ESPN
  • “Alexa, tune to channel 130”
  • “Alexa, go to the History Channel”
  • “Alexa, find the Big Bang Theory”
  • “Alexa, search for Game of Thrones”
  • “Alexa, show me Tom Hanks movies”
  • “Alexa, search for comedies”
  • “Alexa, play This is Us”
  • “Alexa, skip forward”
  • “Alexa, rewind 30 seconds”
  • “Alexa, pause”
  • “Alexa, resume”

“Customers love the convenience of interacting with their smart homes via Alexa, and now that includes live TV on DISH,” Amazon’s Rob Pulciani said of the news. “With DISH’s skill for Alexa, changing the channel, pausing, rewinding and searching for content will be as simple as asking Alexa via an Echo family device. We think this is a big step forward for the television experience, and that customers will love this new voice functionality on DISH.”

Setting up the Hopper to support Alexa is as simple as configuring any other device, and you can find instructions here. You’ll need an Alexa-enabled device to use the new feature, of course, and it just so happens that the Echo Dot is on sale today at an all-time low.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.

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