BBC launches full voice service for Echo devices

The BBC  has launched its first full voice service for Amazon Echo devices, with services for other smart speakers coming “in future”. The BBC runs 10 national, six UK and 40 local radio stations. The BBC is also the second-largest podcast producer in the world – 240m podcasts were downloaded last year, with The Archers, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review and Woman’s Hour among the most popular.

The BBC said that the voice service will enable it to provide easy access to all of its live radio and on-demand podcast content. It also enables the BBC to introduce pop-up stations throughout the year to cover a range of events, festivals and genres. The BBC will also launch brand new voice experiences exclusively for smart speakers through the service.

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

“Smart speakers are an exciting new way of interacting with audio content,” said  Matthew Postgate, the BBC’s chief technology and product officer. “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 one single and 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, on Echo and Alexa that will come to other smart speakers in future.