Last March, XAPPmedia developed the first custom Alexa skill for a radio station, making Federated Media’s B100 the first radio station available directly to listeners on the Amazon Echo. Today the company announced that since then, XAPPmedia has brought 118 other radio stations to the Amazon Echo with custom Alexa skills. While many broadcasters wanted to get on the Echo first, the company’s interactive voice software platform makes it easy for radio stations to launch, operate, maintain and update their voice apps across multiple voice assistants. XAPPmedia CEO Pat Higbie commented:
The XAPPmedia Platform is designed specifically to deliver voice interactive engagement between brands, media and consumers and ensure high quality of service. A voice strategy for radio is about more than just getting your signal live on Alexa. It is also about capabilities that enable you to serve listeners on multiple voice assistants simultaneously and ensure high availability performance over time.
The Future of Radio
Radio stations have had a hard time in recent years. The rise of smart phones brought on new competitors in the form of on-demand streaming like Pandora and digital music subscription services like Spotify. But consumers listening habits are rapidly changing again as more people adopt voice-first devices like the Amazon Echo. Pandora recently reported that smart speaker listening for its platform has grown 282% since last year and a recent Edison report found that 69% of smart speaker owners use their device to listen to audio content at least once a week.
Broadcasters were notoriously slow to go digital, but it seems this time around they are embracing the new opportunity that the Amazon Echo and other smart speakers can provide. Ron McCracken, a director of the digital solutions group for Scripps and XAPPmedia client, believes it is the future of radio:
Gartner forecasts that 75 percent of US households will have at least one Alexa-like device by 2020, and numerous studies show that audio entertainment is one of the top two use cases for the devices. Radio must be available on Alexa today while consumers are forming their listening habits.