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Does Radio Have A Gaming Opportunity In The Connected Car?

Old time quiz and game shows like “Vox Pop” and “Stop The Music” were staples of the Golden Age Of Radio before the advent of television. Nearly a century later, new technology could usher in a modern take on audio-based games that can be played in the car, safely, even by the driver.

Tech provider Xperi has developed a gaming prototype as the next addition to DTS AutoStage, the platform that is putting hybrid radio into vehicles worldwide.

“The gaming aspect is still in its infancy. We're still evaluating the integration, the business model, and the user experience,” says Joe D’Angelo, Xperi’s Senior VP, Broadcast Radio & Digital Audio.

D’Angelo is pushing the company to investigate a category of audio-based games that could be associated with the music genre or type of information a radio station programs. Simple ideas, such as name that tune, what's the next lyric, or sports trivia, would allow a station to extend its brand with contests that can be enjoyed by not just the passengers but drivers, too, using voice interfaces and other technology. “There's the opportunity for the driver to just sing the last lyric of the song and get a ding-ding-ding or to get entered into a station contest automatically,” he says.

Gaming ‘Sweet Spot’ For Broadcasters

Leveraging its knowledge of the local community, a station could develop “a highly localized trivia game that would only resonate with a small audience in your marketplace that could be very engaging and entertaining and would keep people coming back to your programming,” D’Angelo suggests.

With consumers expecting personalization and customization capabilities with their entertainment, Xperi is giving motorists the option to identify themselves and register with certain services. Using this capability, drivers and passengers would no longer have to pick up the phone or go online to enter a radio station contest or game. With their permission, the car could send their entry submission directly to the station via DTS AutoStage. “There's all these great opportunities for radio to take advantage of new technologies and offerings around connectivity, content and technology in the car,” says D’Angelo. “And gaming is one that is really in the sweet spot of the broadcast industry.”

According to IDC, Gen Z spend 14.9 hours a week gaming on average, while consumers overall spend an average of 9.4 hours, with the hours spent on gaming by Younger Millennials, Older Millennials and Gen X expected to rise in the next year. Xperi has surveyed radio groups around the world to learn more about their existing gaming offerings. The goal is to understand the efforts that go into producing them, the audience lift and engagement they deliver, and what it would take to make them successful and sustainable in a vehicle dashboard. Concurrently, Xperi is engaged with other technology companies to determine how to turn these ideas into reality.

Competitive Or Complementary?

Among the unanswered questions: Would gaming activities in the connected car be competitive with radio? Or complementary? From Xperi’s point of view, gaming, like video, already exists as an entertainment alternative in the vehicle. The better question is how can radio take advantage of these capabilities, and give broadcasters a place in these new ecosystems? “We're not going to be able to prevent gaming from coming in the car. It's already there,” D’Angelo says, pointing to first generation gaming platforms from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla. “The question is how does radio take advantage of that capability so that if the driver or passenger decides to play a game, or watch a video, they're playing a game or watching a video that's produced by a radio broadcaster.”

In September, Xperi showcased an expansion of DTS AutoStage that delivers video services to vehicle screens. Since then, D’Angelo has been working with radio stations to bring their video podcasts and in-studio camera feeds into vehicles.

One use case for video in the car is giving electric vehicle owners something to watch when the car is stationary – when the car battery is charging or they’re in a line waiting to pick up the kids at school. “It’s in the radio stations’ DNA, they're putting it up on their websites or in the apps. And as the steward of radio within Xperi, I'm saying that as all of these new technologies come into the car, radio should have an offering in each one of them,” D’Angelo explains. “We're going to put radio front and center so they can compete, whether it's video or gaming.”

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