Developer Console

Getting Started with Universal Search and Browse on Fire TV

Universal Search and Browse allows customers to discover your content on Fire TV, regardless of whether they have your app installed. Your catalog file is used to integrate your media's metadata into Amazon home screen and global search results. This allows your content to surface in customer searches and in the ways to watch options on content details pages.

Reasons to implement Universal Search and Browse

Implementing Universal Search and Browse provides the following advantages for your content:

  • Surfaces your content across providers
  • Drives new customer acquisition
  • Retains existing customers
  • Makes your content more visible on the Fire TV home screen

The following sections provide more detail about how Universal Search and Browse works.

Content discovery

Search results on Fire TV (whether voice searches or global searches) show only apps that have implemented Universal Search and Browse.

Suppose a customer performs a search for a fictitious media title called "Seabound," but the app that provides this media has not integrated Universal Search and Browse. If so, customers would not see the Seabound title from the non-catalog-integrated app. Customers would have to explicitly launch the non-catalog-integrated app and use the app's own search features to look for the content.

When you implement Universal Search and Browse, your content is shown on Fire TV home screen's search results even if a customer has not downloaded your app or subscribed to your service. For example, suppose Seabound is available only within Streamz (a fictitious app). Even if customers haven't installed Streamz, when they search for Seabound, they'll see the Seabound media title from your app. This is why catalog integration is essential for content discovery.

Consolidated search results

Universal Search and Browse also consolidates duplicate media titles into a single entry. For example, even if multiple apps provide the movie "Seabound," Fire TV consolidates the title into a single result:

Multiple instances of the same media, available from different apps, are consolidated into a single result. (In these examples, the media titles and sample apps are fictitious.)

Without this consolidation into a single title, if the same media title were available on several different apps, the search results might look like this:

Fire TV consolidates the same title into one instance in the search results, avoiding the duplication eyesore shown above.

In short, Fire TV consolidated duplicate instances into a single entry for the item instead of separate entries for each provider. Consolidating media titles helps improve content discovery and browsing, as it allows customers to more easily scan and review more results.

Content matching

Amazon uses the item's metadata (such as the Title or ReleaseYear) to identify and match titles. For example, identical titles allow Amazon to identify the media as the same and therefore consolidate the title in the search results. The chance of Amazon successfully matching one piece of content to another depends on the amount of information that you can provide.

If you include only the item's required elements in your catalog file, the Title might be the only data available to Amazon for matching. If you include a ReleaseYear, the content's RuntimeMinutes, an episode number in a TvEpisode or MiniSeries, or any other unambiguous metadata value, you will increase the chance of Amazon achieving a high-confidence match when a customer searches or browses for that content.

Fire TV's home screen also includes rows such as "Featured Movies", "Featured TV", and "Featured Content In This App" (among other curated lists) with a rotating selection of works. Only catalog-integrated content is eligible to be included in these featured rows.

You can use "Featured Content In This App" to choose which content is promoted on your app's details page. You can determine which content to display in the featured content row by providing a Rank in your content catalog. Learn more about the Rank element in the Catalog Data Format Schema documentation.

The Buy Box (the promoted viewing option)

When a customer selects a title from the search results, the content details page appears. Below the content, customers can see the different ways to watch the content. The viewing option highlighted in orange is referred to as the "Buy Box."

Even if customers don't have your app or haven't subscribed to your service, your app or service can be promoted as a way to watch. This promoted option is called the Buy Box.

Fire TV automatically selects what it thinks is the best way for customers to view the content, based on the apps customers have and the free trials available, and promotes the title in the Buy Box. In the above example, Fire TV identifies Streamz as the best way to watch the content (most likely due to the free trial).

If the customer already has the Streamz app and is authorized to view the content, the customer is presented with a "Watch Now with Streamz" button:

Fire TV makes it easy for subscribers to view media they already have access to. In this case, the customer subscribes to Streamz, so Fire TV promotes it was the preferred way to watch the content.

Even if the customer doesn't have the Streamz app downloaded, customers will be directed to the Streamz detail page to download the app.

More ways to watch

If there are multiple ways to consume the media, the content details page shows a More Ways to Watch button as follows:

The More Ways to Watch button lists all the different ways customers can watch the media.

Clicking More Ways to Watch lists all the different apps with which customers can choose to watch the content. In this case, Seabound is available from Amazon, Streamz, and Mooveez.

Options for watching the content are provided here.

If the customer clicks the "30-Day Free Trial" button for Streamz, Fire TV displays a screen that prompts the customer to download the Streamz app to begin the free trial.

How media gets prioritized

As a media provider, you generally want your content visible and promoted in the Buy Box or in More Ways to Watch. Note that these sections list app titles algorithmically based on a number of confidential factors. Basically, the main differentiator is whether the customer is entitled to view the content or not. Entitled content always wins the Buy Box. Beyond that, the viewing options are generally prioritized by offer type:

  1. Free
  2. Subscription
  3. Rental
  4. Purchase

This prioritization order means that your current subscribers will see your app as the first option. Seeing your app listed as a preferred viewing option reminds customers of the value they receive from subscribing to your service.

If no free options are available, subscription and rental options are then presented to the customer. Finally, purchase options are shown.

Requirements for Universal Search and Browse

Implementing Universal Search and Browse requires the following:

  • Catalog ingestion: You need to submit your media metadata into a catalog file that gets ingested into Amazon, as explained in Catalog ingestion. Development work required for catalog ingestion can take place while you're also making the required changes to your app for Universal Search and Browse. These two processes can take place in parallel.
  • Launcher integration: You must configure your app to integrate with the media launcher used by Fire TV's home screen. This allows a customer to launch content from your catalog without having to launch your app first.
  • TV Input Framework integration: To surface your linear content in Fire TV's Channel Guide and in the On Now row on Fire TV's home screen, you must integrate with the TV Input Framework (TIF).
  • Testing the integration: After you have modified your app to integrate with the launcher, you will test your integration before re-publishing your app.

To complete these tasks, you will need a developer with Android development experience to integrate your app with the Fire TV launcher.

What's a "launcher"?

The launcher refers to the home screen UI that organizes apps, settings, and navigation. It is the UI that sits on top of the device's operating system. In contrast to the Android launcher (used on Android apps), the Fire TV launcher is the default launcher used on Fire devices.

Process overview

The process for integrating with Universal Search and Browse is detailed in the following steps:

Get started

To get started integrating with the launcher, see Step 1: Integrate Your App with the Fire TV Launcher.

Last updated: Jan 20, 2022