• Compelling UIs and seamless integrations are critical for next-generation voice control experiences
  • Media and entertainment industry shift from graphics to voice technology control and customisation 
  • Liberty Global SVP: “Voice control has surprised us because the uptake is overwhelming.”

Optimising voice control for a seamless and authentic user experience whilst driving new TV revenues is explored in the IBC365 webinar with experts from Liberty Global, BBC and Nuance.

The media and entertainment industry has increasingly adopted voice technologies to create compelling user interfaces (UI) with voice control.

As a traditional industry it has faced a paradigm shift from linear graphics and on screen navigation, with audiences adopting voice integration technologies at a significantly quicker rate than experts predicted.

Industry leaders share their secrets in deploying best practice for voice technology and what is next on their roadmaps.

Liberty Global vice president entertainment products Pieter Vervoort said: “Voice control has surprised us because the uptake is overwhelming.

“Over 70% of people having Horizon 4 are using the voice control functionality on a weekly basis and this is much more than we expected.”

Consumers utilise the voice feature to tune channels, choose play back options, navigate the menu as well as access apps.

Netflix and YouTube are the top two trending requests across the three markets.

“With 11 million voice requests per month we have found it supremely accurate in any language, including English, Dutch, French and Italian,” he continues, “Going forward we want to further enhance the voice control functionality and we want to do this with further metadata integration in and around apps.”

Voice has fast become established with consumers and operators as an essential component to the TV user experience.

The IBC365 webinar Creating brand loyalty and new TV revenues with next-generation voice control speakers explore the opportunities and what is required to take voice engagement to the next level and maximise audience experiences to ensure retention of customers and revenue growth.

Voice is a powerful tool to help audiences navigate and discover content as well as playing a vital role in transforming security, customer satisfaction and retention.

As a large multinational pay-TV, broadband and mobile company, Liberty Global has multiple brands in different markets and serve a couple of million households.

Vervoort explained: “We realised we needed to up the game in entertainment and started the next-gen platform called Horizon 4 which is of a set top box that supports 4K.”

Voice was critical to integrate into the device with an “intuitive user interface (UI) and access to apps from different platforms.”

Working with Nuance, the voice integration in Horizon 4 was successfully launched in three markets including, Switzerland, Netherlands and Belgium.

Contextual feedback, performance and accuracy improvement and a greater enhanced UI with further graphical feedback instead of text for a “richer and more intuitive” viewing experience is the top priority.

Vervoort explained there is a long way to go, however he said the team are extremely pleased with the results of adding voice control to this platform since 2018 and we see a huge uptake and positive feedback from our customer base.

If businesses can get voice right, there is huge potential to unlock new revenues and new business models, more engaged and satisfied users.

Customising for the customer
As the BBC is a public service media provider, the integration of voice and the subsequent considerations of what platform the audience is on and universal access and privacy.

BBC senior architect voice and AI Dan Whaley looks at how content and experiences can be portrayed through voice platforms.

He said the BBC strategy with voice from and editorial perspective is taking the BBC’s objective of informing, educating and entertaining and integrating it with voice.

He said: “How do we create a technology strategy to enable the conversation?”

The strategy hinges around a four point programme and looking at the core platforms emerging in people’s living rooms like Google Assistant and Alexa.

“The BBC needed to be there and the first thing we did at scale was platform integration.”

Power and the passion
Nuance Communications director EMEA intelligent engagement Sebastian Reeve explained how Nuance has “been pioneering this technology for the last two decades, before speech was cool.”

Today it operates with 40 entertainment companies in about 25 different markets globally, giving the team a “pervasive and wide market view.”

For the entertainment space we package the technologies under Dragon TV which has had over 1 billion transactions monthly in the last 12 months.

On technology functionality, Reeve explained how important the button placement is for consumers and “turn the remote control into something it wasn’t designed for,” to collect audio form a customer and sent to the set top box and the cloud for processing.

He said: “We want it to be highly intuitive, so we are using language understanding and speech recognition.”

The aim was to make voice work at scale, the firm tested dialogue and voice recognition which he described as “a unique challenge,” as it is an ongoing solution to listen and optimise into the future for what consumers are asking for.

“Dealing with millions of transactions at scale is a challenge,” he explained, “a lot of those operational issues is really where the works goes and as a technology provider I would say the technology is important and needs to work but there are a lot of other things behind the scenes that we need to get right.”

Reeve said they’ve seen a 20% uplift in paid content being accessed, meaning “considerable gains” are being made.

He added: “Looking to the future is really important as we make these voice services more important and handling sensitive data like transaction data and credit card details.”

Understanding the commands as well as the consumer using the devices is critical, Reeve added.