NPR Using Amazon Echo to the Fullest

The Amazon Echo is growing in popularity and offers a very new way of delivering the news as MediaFile reported last week. Simply ask, “Alex, what’s new?” and the Echo will begin playing the Flash Briefing, a collaboration of “pre-recorded updates… the latest news headlines… and weather information.”

One outlet that is tapping into the potential of Echo is NPR. News headlines from NPR can be delivered to listeners using either an Amazon Fire TV or Echo device.

To date, NPR’s Echo claim-to-fame doesn’t come from it’s ability to provide the day’s headlines, but from an Alexa quirk that was discovered last March. When NPR briefings said the word “Alexa,” the device would perk up and listen for a command as the briefing continued to play. In some instances this caused the smart home device to play with users’ thermostats.

But NPR director of mobile Demian Perry believes there is much to be excited about for the future of NPR on Echo.

“NPR was the original screenless platform,” said Perry in an interview with MediaFile. “It’s no surprise that digital platforms like Google Assistant [and Amazon Echo] comprise one of our fastest-growing audience segments.”

Perry explained that Echo briefings are the same audio clips listeners hear when they tune into NPR at the top of the hour. These briefings are updated hourly to provide “the latest breaking news from NPR.”

The Flash Briefing is seeing a growing amount of listeners. Perry explained, “This year, we have seen double-digit month-over-month percentage growth in our Flash Briefings audience.”

NPR also has a growing list of programs it offers for the Echo in addition to the default Flash Briefing. Users can receive updates specifically from Planet Money and World Story of the Day.

“We hope to add many more [NPR] programs to the Alexa platform over the next few weeks,” Perry stated.

NPR started off providing national news over the Echo. But, Perry said, there is growing evidence that listeners find local news to be either as important or more important than national news.

While Perry did not point to a specific study, there is research that shows that people do have a higher level of trust in local news over national news. In a study conducted in February of 2016 by Pew Research Center, 82 percent of respondents said that they have some or a lot of trust in local media, while only 79 percent said they have some or a lot of trust in national media outlets.

With trust in media at an all time low, according to Gallup, utilizing in-home devices like Alexa to bring local news to consumers may be an effective strategy to bridge the gap between national outlets and the public.
Perry said, “Finding a way to deliver local news to Alexa listeners is a high priority at NPR.  Stay tuned.”

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