Food Network to have Rachael Ray “Take Over” Alexa Skill Today
Food Network announced that Rachael Ray will “take over” the company’s Alexa skill today as part of the official kickoff of 30 new episodes of the “30-Minute Meals” television program. The show will air new episodes every day this month at noon EDT/PDT on television, online, and on Facebook. All of the 30-Minute Meals recipes will also be available through Food Network’s Alexa skill.
For the month of April, a Food Network spokesperson said that Ray’s voice will greet Alexa skill users and provide them with information about the recipes. That actual recipe content will still be delivered using Alexa’s voice, but Ray’s presence will add more of the star’s personality to user sessions. Sarah Adler, a vice president in Discovery Digital Studios commented in an interview with Voicebot:
“It’s mostly little flourishes to help the users have a more intimate experience with [Rachael Ray]… We’re really excited about it and about voice in general because we think that it’s such an intimate way to engage with our users when you’re basically having a conversation with someone in their home as they’re trying to cook. That’s a very different experience than having a one-directional conversation on TV or having a passive conversation on digital. And, I think we can do a lot there to drive new kinds of relationship with our users. So, when we had the opportunity to bring one of our favorite chefs into this experience, we thought it would be a great opportunity for our users to have a different kind of relationship with us on the platform.”
Voice Channels Compared to Other Digital and Linear Formats
When asked about why Food Network was making this investment in voice considering the user traffic is so much lower than the network’s other digital properties, Adler responded,
“Across the board, we are looking to drive deeper connections with our users. And, sometimes that means more deeper connections and sometimes that just means deeper connections. In voice, the times that you are interacting with that platform are especially intimate times in your home in your kitchen with your family. You are having conversations with Alexa. That’s a new an different kind of engagement.”
In responding to a question about how an Alexa skill like Food Network can compete with first-party recipe features offered directly by Alexa, Adler commented,
“You can already find…first-party applications that can do different types of utility really well…I think that we are looking specifically at other ways we can be adding entertainment, joy, and fun and how we can have new use cases that are separate and outside of the utility-based ones that the first-party applications do so well. That [approach] can drive deeper connections that are surprising and delightful for our users.”
Recipes and Smart Kitchen are Popular in the U.S.
Food Network also shared some data points about the popularity of recipe access and smart kitchen technologies. In a February 2019 survey of 2,078 U.S. adults, Food Network found that 32% use smart kitchen technology at least weekly and about one-third of voice assistant users say they are accessing recipes with a similar frequency. Voicebot’s data from January 2019 shows weekly recipe access on smart speakers specifically to be 16% with 26% adopting the use case on a monthly basis. However, 39.5% of smart display users were accessing recipes on their devices on a weekly basis and nearly 50% with monthly frequency. Rising adoption of smart displays should continue to make the recipe use case even more popular on voice-first devices.
No Google Action Support
Food Network has both an Alexa skill and Google Action and yet the update featuring Rachael Ray and 30-Minute Meals content, for now, is limited to Alexa. Adler said it came down to resources and priorities. That is consistent with what we are seeing with other consumer and media brands. Many more are committing to Amazon’s Alexa for special initiatives in the U.S. due to its far larger market share. Voicebot data show that Google Home device owners report accessing recipes more frequently on a monthly basis than Alexa users. However, it is still a smaller user base due to Google’s smaller smart speaker user base.
You can hear Rachael Ray and access the new 30-minute meals recipes today on Alexa-enabled devices. Food Network says the features will only be available for the month of April. Today’s featured recipe and noon show is also available online at FoodNetwork.com and features a chicken parm patty with salami salad.