AUSTIN, TX: Comcast, the cable and broadcasting company, is generating extremely valuable consumer insights from the voice-activated remote controls that are now being used by many customers of its X1 service.

Amit Bagga, Comcast’s VP of research & development, discussed this subject at SXSW 2018. And voice, he reported, was a powerful mechanism for NBC, a broadcast network owned by the company, during the recent 2018 Winter Olympics.

More specifically, the X1 audience could use their voice-activated remote control to be taken straight to live content, find out information about the Games and the competing athletes, as well as play back previous sporting action, and so on.

“We doubled the number of [voice] commands from Rio, which was a Summer Olympics,” Bagga said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Comcast speaks out on voice technology.)

“And the Winter Olympics are not as popular, or as watched, as Summer Olympics. That just gives you the scale in terms of how many people used voice to actually discover the [Winter] Olympics’ content.”

Looking forward, he predicted that voice would profoundly impact content discovery and interactivity in multiple ways – a statement that holds true for both programming and advertising.

While Comcast has used a variety of communications techniques to demonstrate the power of its orally-powered navigation service, many users will simply ask it about whatever they are interested in at the time.

It is not always possible for the brand to meet these highly varied requests. But understanding what consumers desire from this service offers strong hints to Comcast regarding potential future strategies.

“A lot people do ask those questions. And people will try and see if it works. And that allows us, in turn, to gather the data and build some of the feature developments,” Bagga said. “We do look at the data we are getting.”

One illustrative query that customers often pose out loud to their remote control involves attempting to order a tasty snack to enjoy as they watch TV.

“Pizza is one [thing] a lot of people will ask for: Ordering pizza, because a lot of people want pizza with it. That’s one that a lot of people ask for, and it’s something that we plan to support at some point,” said Bagga.

Sourced from WARC