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Westwood One, Google Partner in Voice Tech Deal for March Madness

Companies have agreement to integrate premium live content

Westwood OneIn another sign of the growing role for radio content over smart devices, Westwood One said it is working with Google to make college basketball playoff content available as “natively integrated” into a voice ecosystem.

The network and Google announced a collaboration that integrates the Westwood One’s live NCAA March Madness programming on smart devices with Google Assistant. Westwood One, owned by Cumulus Media, is the network radio partner of the NCAA, while Google is its public cloud provider.

“Google Assistant users can listen to all of the upsets and buzzer-beaters with a simple voice command,” the companies stated in an announcement. “Google Assistant will take users directly to the live audio stream when they say, ‘Hey Google, play NCAA March Madness on Westwood One.’”

[Related: “Tech Brands Pick Up Smart Speaker Challenge”]

In announcing the agreement to integrate premium live content, the companies cited Triton Digital data that 19% of total listening hours to AM/FM radio streams occurred on smart speakers in January.

The announcement quoted Suzanne Grimes, EVP, marketing for Cumulus Media and president of Westwood One, saying, “Westwood One has the largest network of custom voice apps in the country, but this is the first time our content will be natively integrated in a voice eco-system.”

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