Pandora Adds Podcast Library and Voice Control to Alexa Skill
Pandora has added podcasts to the content available in its Alexa skill. The voice assistant can now pull up podcasts from the streaming service with a vocal command, seven months after Spotify and Apple opened up their podcast library to Alexa.
The expanded Alexa skill essentially augments Pandora’s audio offerings with its podcast library. Users can ask Alexa to play a show, ask for a specific episode, or request an episode of a podcast based around a topic. The voice assistant will also handle playback commands so users can skip around within an episode or move on to a different one. The voice commands have to add “on Pandora” to a request unless Pandora is set as the default podcast platform, in which case Alexa will automatically use it to play a podcast. Pandora has a large library of podcasts, including several exclusive to the platform like the upcoming Marvel superhero shows. Though available through its website and mobile app, Alexa is the first voice assistant to integrate Pandora’s podcast library into its commands.
The voice assistant has been adding new connections to Pandora for the last few years. Originally, only the free version of Pandora was accessible through Alexa, with the paid Pandora Premium tier added in late 2018. Alexa has an ecumenical approach to streaming services in general. Apple partnered with Amazon in 2018 to make first Apple Music and then Apple podcasts playable through Alexa in the U.S. before extending the arrangement to make Apple Music playable on Alexa devices in several European countries as well. Spotify joined the ranks with its free streaming service last year, right around when SiriusXM, which owns Pandora, added an archive of more than 10,000 hours of its shows to Alexa.
Streaming audio, especially podcasts, are more popular than ever, with some studies pointing to a rise in supply and demand for audio content as a result of lockdowns during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. A report from May found that smart speakers are becoming a more significant source for news and entertainment, including through podcasts. of people’s news and entertainment, especially younger adults. The competition for listeners among streaming platforms is only getting more intense, but Pandora’s podcasts could entice more people to sign up if they are already using Alexa to access audio content. A potentially bigger audience means more listeners to both content and ads, and Pandora’s potential bigger audience means more people potentially hearing ads, including the interactive audio ads Pandora added to its own platform recently. The ads use a platform built by advertising tech developer Instreamatic but are powered by the Voice Mode virtual assistant it built in a partnership with Houndify.