TiVo® + Amazon Alexa Frequently Asked Questions

Wave Broadband October 22, 2019

What should I do first?

Give your TiVo a name! Be sure to go into your TiVo settings and assign an easy-to-remember name to your TiVo box. For example, if your TiVo is in the family room, make sure you’ve labeled it something easy like “Family Room TiVo”. And give each TiVo their own unique name if you want to use Alexa on them.

How to name your TiVo:

New TiVo Experience MENU > SETTINGS > REMOTE, CABLECARD & DEVICES > TiVo BOX NAME
Six, Four, Two Tuner Settings & Messages > Remote Control, CableCARD, & Devices > Tivo Box Name
Premiere Series (HD) Settings & Messages > Remote Control, CableCARD, & Devices > Name this TiVo box

Assigning a name to your TiVo is highly recommended to avoid fails/errors with the Alexa service. Also, when installing a new box to replace an old box, the new box and the old box need to have unique friendly names.

What should I do Next?

After you’ve named your TiVo, make sure you have your phone, tablet, laptop or other device nearby. You’ll need it to enter the code displayed on your TV. In the meantime, keep going with these steps and activate the Alexa feature on your TiVo device. Here’s how:

New TiVo Experience From HOME, press APPS, then press SMARTHOME. Open Amazon Alexa App
Six, Four, Two Tuner, Premiere From TiVo Central > Apps, open the Amazon Alexa App

Opening Amazon Alexa app displays the CONNECT TO AMAZON ALEXA SCREEN. Make a note of the Activation Code and the TiVo Name you assigned to the box(es) you’re connecting. On the Alexa Companion App on your mobile device, or from a web browser at http://amazon.com/alexa.

From the Alexa App: From a mobile device, open the Alexa App. Press the menu icon to display the menu list. Press Settings. Press TV & Video. Tap Enable Skill. Press TIVO. Enter the Activation Code. Press SUBMIT. Check the box to agree to terms (after reading the terms of course). Press CONNECT. TiVo has been successfully linked is displayed. Press X to exit this screen. Pick the TiVo device you want to control with Alexa. Press CONTINUE. Pick the Alexa device that you want to use to control the TiVo device. Press LINK DEVICE. Linked TiVo device appears under Your linked devices. To pair another device, repeat!

From the Alexa URL: It’s very similar, if not almost identical. Follow the screens and enter the code provided.

What does “in focus” mean?

Your first command using Alexa must be accompanied by the word “TiVo” in order for your TiVo STB to be “in focus”. For example:

  1. Initial command: “Alexa, pause on TiVo” – with the words “on TiVo” added to this command, you will put your TiVo in focus.
  2. Second (and subsequent) command: “Alexa, play” – you don’t have to say “on TiVo” after that.

NOTE: The focus will time out after an event is inactive for approximately 90 minutes. This threshold can be reached, for example, if the TV is tuned to a channel for a long time (e.g. a long sports event or a movie). When in this state, Alexa will not run the TiVo command. To regain focus, the subscriber must either (a) add “on TiVo” to the command, or (b) press a remote control button. For example, a subscriber is watching the Super Bowl with no interaction on the remote for approximately 90+ minutes. The TiVo Skill is no longer in focus and has timed out. Expected behavior is as follows:

  1. The subscriber says “Alexa, pause” which does not work. Instead, Alexa routes this command as a Music skill or gives an error.
  2. The subscriber must say “Alexa, pause on TiVo”. After this command, TiVo has focus again and direct commands can be given (without saying “on TiVo”).
  3. The subscriber can then restart playback with the command “Alexa, play”.

What commands are supported?

Play, pause, fast forward, rewind, skip forward, and skip back can be controlled with voice. The following example commands work everywhere on the TiVo device as the remote control would (including in apps):

  • “Alexa, pause”
  • “Alexa, fast forward”
    • When in fast forward, 2x and 3x fast forward can be accomplished by saying “Alexa, Fast Forward” again.
  • “Alexa, previous” is like pressing the TiVo replay button.
  • “Alexa, next”: 30 second advance

How do I change the channel using Alexa?

The channel can be changed by name or by channel number. Example voice commands:

  • “Alexa, watch CBS”
  • “Alexa, change the channel to 1”
  • “Alexa, tune to channel 1”

NOTE: You MUST set up the zip code for the Amazon Alexa-enabled device (e.g. Echo, Echo Dot, and so on) to make channel tuning by name work. To make sure the zip code is set:

  1. In the Alexa App, go to Settings.
  2. Click your Alexa device.
  3. Check the zip code under Device location.
  4. Amazon and TiVo are working together to ensure correct mapping of network name/call signs. Currently, we support the top ~200 channels, covering the majority of customer requests. The list might grow over time as TiVo continues to work with Amazon.

How do I navigate TiVo Central using Alexa?

Many screens can be opened using voice, however, to navigate the screens, the TiVo remote control is required.

  • The following UI screens can be opened with Alexa with the “go to” command:
    • Home, Guide, Settings, Help
  • Example voice commands:
    • “Alexa, go to Guide” – opens the Guide
    • “Alexa, go to Home” – opens Home
    • “Alexa, go to recordings” – opens MyShows
    • “Alexa, go to TV” – brings up live TV

Can I open an App like Netflix on my TiVo using Alexa?

You absolutely can! Most popular apps can be launched with voice (the app must be present on the TiVo). The word “launch” works best; “open” can also work, but not as consistently. Alexa also works with commands limited to “play”, “pause”, “fast-forward”, “rewind”.

  • Netflix: “Alexa, launch Netflix”
  • Hulu
  • HBO GO
  • iHeartRadio
  • Pandora
  • PLEX
  • Tubi TV
  • VEWD (formerly Opera Store)
  • Ameba TV
  • CuriosityStream

Are there any Apps that are NOT supported on my TiVo using Alexa?

Yes, some apps on TiVo are currently NOT supported by Alexa:

  • EPIX
  • FlixFling
  • HSN
  • Opera TV
  • Tastemade TV
  • Toon Goggles
  • Vevo
  • WWE

Are there any tips or tricks I should remember?

Yes! The following tips can help you get the best results:

  1. Name your TiVo box first! And if you ever change the name, you’ll need to change it with Alexa too.
  2. Say your command within 10 seconds. Otherwise, it will time out and you’ll need to try again.
  3. When saying “on TiVo” (to regain focus), speak slowly and clearly. Alexa has a tendency to hear “TV” instead of “TiVo”.
  4. If you have multiple TiVos with the same name during pairing, that name is augmented in the Alexa App with -#### (last 4 digits of the TSN).
  5. If you change the friendly name in the TiVo box Alexa App, this changes the name that is shown in the Amazon Alexa pairing process and app. This does NOT change the name on the box or your TiVo account. So you’ll have to remember to do that too!
  6. For TiVo Guide navigation, saying “go to” or “open” seems to work better than “launch”.
  7. “Launch” + channel name / number is not supported phrasing. Using “tune to” works best.

Are Alexa Voice Control and TiVo Voice Experience the same?

While the list of supported commands will likely grow over time, Alexa is not a replacement for the full-featured and advanced Search & Command and Control capabilities possible with the TiVo Voice feature using a TiVo Voice remote control.

How do I disable Alexa after I’ve activated it?

If for any reason you decide to disable Alexa on your TiVo, the following steps should be followed in case you want to add the TiVo Skill back at a later time:

  1. Open a web browser and go to amazon.com/alexa.
  2. Select Smart Home/Devices.
  3. Select Forget All.

How do I re-enable Alexa after I’ve disabled it?

If you decide to disable Alexa, and later decide to re-enable it, you will need to use a new activation code to repeat setup. Follow the set-up instruction to re-enable your TiVo.