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Media Streamers

Alexa speakers can now talk to Roku streamers and TVs

Hands-free “Alexa” voice commands work with Roku devices for search and app launching, but don’t support Netflix.

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David Katzmaier/CNET

If you have both an Amazon Echo and a Roku in the house, get ready to start talking to the TV.

The new Roku skill, available now, lets Alexa speakers such as the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show and others accept your voice commands to control Roku streamers and TVs.

You can now use Alexa to:

  • Launch Apps ("Alexa, open Hulu on Roku")
  • Control playback ("Alexa, pause Roku")
  • Search ("Alexa, find dramas on Roku")

Roku TV owners get additional capabilities, including power ("Alexa, turn on Roku"), volume and mute, input switching and channel changing (with an over-th-air antenna).

The big exception? Netflix. The most popular subscription streaming video service in the world doesn't accept Alexa commands to Roku devices.

Hands-free voice control is an increasingly popular alternative to the good old remote control, and numerous smart TVs already have Alexa skills. It's a lot easier to use many of the features by voice. Asking Alexa to find a particular TV show or movie is far easier than typing into a cumbersome on-screen keyboard, for example.

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Roku's streamers and TVs also work with Google Home speakers as of last year. They work in pretty much the same way as this Alexa skill. Netflix isn't supported in either case, and you need to append "Roku" to the command to get it to work. Roku also has its own voice system, which you can use by speaking into compatible Roku remote controls or via Roku's phone app.

Amazon's Fire TV streamers and televisions, which compete directly against Roku, also work with Alexa speakers. That combination does support Netflix and does not require any extra trigger words. Check out our full Roku vs. Amazon Fire TV comparison for details.

To use the new Alexa skill with your Roku, head to the Alexa app on your phone and turn it on it under Settings > TV & Video.

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