BBC Global News has announced the launch of a new smart text-to-speech tool on its international digital online platform BBC.com which uses artificial intelligence to convert text articles into speech, ‘reading’ them aloud with a synthetic voice which BBC has created with Microsoft with a natural tone and clear articulation of words.
The initial content will be part of a series within BBC Worklife called ‘The Life Project’ with 16 feature articles which focuses on giving readers the tools they need to make life-changing decisions during the pandemic which are now available in audio.
At the conclusion of The Life Project on December 31, 2020, the product will roll across select articles from BBC feature verticals BBC Culture, BBC Future, and BBC Worklife while the sections will display an icon inviting users to listen instead of a recording. The experience will be available across multiple platforms and BBC editors will personally handpick the best dynamic articles for the audience.
The articles will have a “listen to article” prompt, allowing users to engage in a way they have never been able to before on the BBC side while the audio will continue after users navigate away from the article on desktop and when the phone is locked on mobile.
The tool will learn the patterns of users behaviors and prioritize content based on their preferences whilst maintaining BBC’s trusted curation of balanced journalism and ensuring audiences are served the most important stories.
“As the popularity of audio grows, this new product offers audiences another complementary way of engaging with our content in a format that suits them. That, married with the opportunities available to our commercial partners and the quality of the offering, makes this a unique and exciting new proposition in the market.”
Errol Baran, global SVP, Business Development & Innovation, Advertising & StoryWorks,
The product will be rolled out to the other areas of the site which introduction to background soundscapes to add to the listening experience, infinite scroll, and a number of other innovative tech developments.
BBC’s commercial partners will also have the opportunity to reach a growing and hyper-engaged audio audience along with pre-roll advertising, sponsored feature sections, and full sponsorship with additional bespoke commissioned audio content from BBC StoryWorks Commerical Productions.