BBC Launches Voice News Service For Amazon Alexa

Mike Wheatley

The BBC has launched what it says is the country’s first interactive voice news service, giving Amazon Alexa smart speaker owners the chance to navigate through its news content based on their personal preferences more easily.


This isn’t the first time the Beeb has dabbled in voice control experiences, having launched an official voice skill for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant in 2017. It’s also created interactive radio stories for smart speakers in the past that allow listeners to play an active part in the storytelling.

But this is something new. Now, when you’re listening to the BBC’s news headlines on your smart speaker - try saying “Alexa, ask the BBC for the news” - you’ll be able to skip through the stories you’re not interested in, or ask to dig deeper and learn more about the story with extra analysis and whatnot. Users can listen to the BBC’s news bulletins at a time and for a duration that suits them, rather than according to the broadcaster’s schedules.

Listeners can also ask for supplementary BBC archive material for extra background about the day’s news.

“Smart speakers give us the chance to reimagine what radio would be like if it were invented today, free from its technical limitations,” said Mukul Devichand, executive editor of BBC Voice + AI. “By making the news interactive on smart speakers, listeners can jump to the stories they need to hear just before rushing out of the house, or, when they have more time, they can delve into a piece and find out more.”

Before the launch of the new service, voice interaction between the BBC and smart speakers was pretty limited, with users only able to ask for live radio, news flashes and podcasts to be played.

The Beeb said the new service is available on Amazon Alexa speakers now, and will be supported by Google Assistant and Siri at a later date.