October 18, 2019

Radio 1 listeners able to interact live with show via Alexa for first time

By Ellen Daniel

For the first time ever, listeners will be able to interact with a live radio broadcast through their voice assistants, the BBC announced.

In what has been described as the first “live, interactive, voice-activated feature” on radio, fans  of Radio 1 Breakfast with Greg James will be able to take part in the show in real-time through Amazon Alexa voice assistants.

During a segment called ‘What’s My Age Again?’, Radio 1 listeners will be able to compete live against band Blink 182 in a game where listeners try to guess the age of a caller.

Listeners without an Alexa-enabled smart speaker can also play along using their mobile phones through the associated app.

Mukul Devichand, Executive Editor for BBC Voice + AI, said “The BBC is always pushing boundaries in everything it does, and always putting audiences first. We want to make radio more interactive and give our listeners a more immersive experience than they can get anywhere else.”

This is part of an experiment developed by the BBC’s voice and AI team, launched earlier this year. It is clear that the BBC is pushing to keep up with the growing popularity of voice assistants, exploring how its services can fit within the new voice technology and how to build content for these platforms.

The BBC has been with the announcement earlier this year that it plans to launch its own voice assistant, with the working title “Beeb”, in 2020, which the BBC has said will be able to understand regional British accents.

According to Statista the UK radio industry has seen revenues stagnate between 2014 and 2017, competing against the growing popularity of podcasts. With at least one in five UK homes now owning a smart speaker, investing in this technology, and the scope for increasing listener interaction, may be a new way to reach audiences.

Read More: Consumers choose voice assistants over humans, report finds.

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