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NAB Meets Robot: Audiences Expect AI Use In Media, Survey Says.

The spectacle of a robot co-presenting a major research study about AI drew a standing room only crowd to the main stage at NAB Show Monday. Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig delivered the results of research on audience perspectives on AI's use in broadcast media with Ameca, a sassy, autonomously AI-powered humanoid robot who cracked jokes and interacted with Anstandig, NAB CEO Curtis LeGeyt and the crowd.

Audiences expect that media will use AI, per the study, conducted in partnership with CMG Custom Research. In fact, many already believe radio and TV are using AI or that they’ve experienced it on the air. The study shows many Americans believe AI will help media choose better news stories, music, and content between the songs, while improving the accuracy of weather forecasts, and battering the quality of commercials.

While audiences that have used AI are receptive to its use in media, they want full disclosure. “They’ll happily engage with AI, but you should be open about how AI is being used to create your content,” Anstandig said. “It can be done in a creative way; it doesn’t need to be overly formal,” he added, pointing to “AI Ashley,” the AI-cloned alter-ego of Ashley Z heard on “Live 95.5” KBFF Portland. “But it needs to be openly disclosed to build trust.” 

Futuri’s AI in Media Study surveyed nearly 5,200 respondents to assess audience perceptions and attitudes toward the integration of artificial intelligence in media. The project combines a pair of separately fielded studies. One surveyed 2,624 audio consumers and another polled 2,500 news consumers.

“Our mission was to understand the nuanced preferences of audiences toward AI in broadcasting, content creation, and explore the diverse demographic attitudes toward AI's increasing role in media,” Anstandig said.

Setting the Stage

Nearly all consumers (94%) have heard of AI, underscoring its pervasiveness. Most of those aware of AI (56%) have direct experience using it. Users of AI hold strongly positive views, seeing it as innovative, futuristic, and efficiency-boosting.

Non-users, meanwhile, harbor negative perceptions, fearing job displacement, dystopian outcomes, and unsettling "uncanny valley" effects. 

“The striking contrast in responses underscores the transformative power of direct AI engagement in shaping attitudes,” Anstandig postulated. “If consumers are already using AI, they’ll want to keep using it.”

One in five radio listeners and nearly half of video users think they've encountered AI-generated content. In fact, 21% of audio consumers say they currently listen to a radio station that is powered by AI, which is highly dubious since AI is not being used at anywhere close to that many stations. 

Nearly half of TV news consumers think they've encountered AI-generated news delivered by human presenters.

AI in Audio 

A significant portion of radio listeners shows interest in customizing an AI voice's personality, content, tone, and language, which Anstandig says indicates a desire for personalized listening experiences. Respondents even showed interest in customizing AI radio or podcast hosts, including by personality type (45%), content type (41%), and voice attributes like pitch/tone (37%) and gender (35%).

The study found that AI voices are often indistinguishable from human voices with a 60% chance of misidentification. In the study, 60% of the time listeners identified Futuri’s AudioAI voices as human and the human voices as AI.

Notable Findings about News 

Overall, 42% of consumers and 45% of television news viewers believe AI can aid newsrooms in creating better news. However, three in ten news consumers believe AI is not beneficial in helping news outlets pick better stories. 

More than half of TV news viewers say AI will improve weather forecasts. Entertainment, tech, sports, and local news are the topics people were most comfortable with AI “reporting on.”

Across the board, respondents said AI can improve media content, from music and news to weather forecasts. “This underscores the potential of AI to elevate content quality and relevance, with 78% indicating they would listen more if AI were to fill in gaps in broadcasting schedules,” Anstandig said.

In every format tested, when listening to examples of voices, 75-82% of radio audiences said AI voices would be appropriate for their format.

There is far more support for use of AI voices than there is non-support, Anstandig said. “There’s interest in AI-enhanced content across genres, including news, music, and sports, with consumers seeing AI as a means to enrich content delivery and personalization.”

Disclosure and Trust

The study from Futuri, which has a dog in the AI hunt with its expanding Audio AI platform, shows that transparency is critical when using AI, with 90% saying it's important for media to disclose AI's role in content creation.

“Audiences willingly engage with transparently labeled AI, but bristle at perceived deception, mandating an honest, upfront approach,” Anstandig said. “The demand for clear disclosure when content is AI-generated is a common theme, reflecting concerns about authenticity and the potential for misinformation.”

Significant opportunities exist for AI to enhance media content across every single radio format, the study suggests.

Before escorting Ameca to the convention newsroom for a press conference, Anstandig closed the presentation with an all-out crusade for broadcasters to hop on the AI bandwagon. “We need to get back to inspiring and creating in our industry, processes are burning us out,” he said. “The role of a content creator up until this point has been 90% process and 10% creativity. And now with AI, we can flip the script, we can go to 90% creativity and 10% process.

“Think about what is ahead in our future today if we really put AI to work in this industry, if we really put it to work in the right ways for us and for our audiences and for our local communities.”

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