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BBC launches full voice service for smart speakers

December 11, 2017

The BBC has launched its first full voice app for voice-controlled smart speakers, an Amazon Alexa skill for Echo devices, with other smart speakers coming in future. It brings the BBC’s full range of live radio stations – including all local, national and international radio – to Echo and Alexa users for the first time, as well as the BBC’s full range of podcasts.

The BBC runs 10 national, 6 UK nations and 40 local radio stations, offering distinctive, high quality music and speech programming to everyone across the UK. BBC World Service provides 24-hour radio programmes across the globe in English plus services in 27 other languages. The BBC is also the second-largest podcast producer in the world – 240 million podcasts were downloaded last year, with The Archers, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review and Woman’s Hour among the most popular.

Through a single voice service, the BBC can provide easy access to all of its live radio and on-demand podcast content across the BBC. The BBC will also launch brand new voice experiences exclusively for smart speakers through the service in future.

To use the skill, audiences simply need to ask for the BBC Radio station or podcast they want. They’ll be taken straight to the live show or the latest episode of podcast, where they’ll also be able to ask for ‘Previous’ episodes in the full back-catalogue. And users can ‘Play’, ‘Pause’ and ‘Resume’ everything they’re listening to.

Matthew Postgate, Chief Technology and Product Officer, BBC, says: “Smart speakers are an exciting new way of interacting with audio content. They’re a natural fit for the BBC as millions of people enjoy and rely on our audio programmes every day. Today we’re making sure audiences can find what they love from the BBC on any device they use through a single, easy-to-use service. But there’s potential to do more and we’re just scratching the surface.”

The new BBC voice service adds to BBC content already available via smart speakers, including the primary news briefing on Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. BBC Research & Development also recently launched an experimental interactive drama, The Inspection Chamber, that will come to other smart speakers in future.

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