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Content from CNN will be available 5 minutes after broadcast with new Alexa skill


By Natan Edelsburg, SVP

November 6, 2016 | 4 min read

Robots are here to stay. Found Remote has covered the popularity of Amazon's Echo and the "Alexa skills" that have spring up from the TV world. NBC News has a skill, Syfy has a skill and now CNN is the latest to jump into the Alexa world in time for the election.

Amazon Echo

CNN's Alexa skill

Here's how to use the new skill according to CNN:

To get started with the new CNN skill, Alexa device owners should enable the “CNN” skill in the Alexa mobile app or by saying “Alexa enable CNN skill.” Once enabled, users can receive the latest top news stories using the Amazon Echo product by simply saying, "Alexa, Ask CNN" to get a list of the latest stories or go straight to a topic "Ask CNN for the latest on Trump."

Found Remote interviewed Alex Wellen, CNN's Chief Product Officer about the launch of the skill.

Found Remote: Why did CNN decide to develop an Alexa skill?

Alex Wellen: While we’ve been available on Alexa’s built-in Flash Briefing and CNN audio through the TuneIn audio service, we wanted to create a more personalized and powerful experience on the platform. The ultimate vision for this product is ambitious – to bring voice-activated breaking news to consumers in a very personal and near real-time way. Amazon is the first platform to gain real traction in bringing voice-enabled content to homes, and in developing the new skill, we believe it’s another step in making the CNN brand accessible wherever people are.

FR: How is it different from the NBC News skill/others?

AW: We are the first publisher to deliver audio news straight from CNN’s world-class anchors and reporters around the globe in near real time, 24-7. This skill lets our audience dive as deep as they want into a story or receive an overview of the latest stories. We are constantly curating content with stories and updates available as soon as 5 minutes after the broadcast.

FR: How will you be tracking success?

AW: The “Ask CNN” skill will provide us with unique insights into which broadcast stories, segments, and content tags resonate the most with our audience. By analyzing when our consumers trigger the skill, how often, and for how long, we can use that feedback loop to refine the experience. We’ve built the technology in such a way that we can deploy it across any voice-activated audio or video platform.

FR: Who did you work with to build it?

AW: This experience was built entirely in-house. We started with a small cross-functional “go team” within CNN of about 4-5 contributors representing product, technology and editorial. The long form audio feature that Amazon announced late this summer was the key enabling tech to playback TV segments. Following the launch, we leveraged support from CNN project management, video programming, editorial, and product teams to create this homegrown experience.

As of July there was estimated to be 1.6 million people with an Amazon Echo.

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