- The National Football League created its first standalone app for Amazon's voice-enabled assistant, Alexa. "A Rookie's Guide to the NFL" will guide fans through the rest of the season with information about players, teams and football jargon from the playoffs through the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, TechCrunch reported.
- The NFL's Digital Lab, which develops technology to improve the fan experience, created the skill to give users access to more than 1,000 football and NFL-related terms. Fans also can ask questions about Super Bowl history, including the score, location, date, MVP and halftime act from the past 52 championship games.
- The skill includes a podcast called "Game Plan" that offers a preview of playoff games and the Super Bowl each Monday during the postseason. The league also integrated into the skill a previously launched flash briefing that's updated throughout the day. By saying "give me the news" in the skill, Alexa will provide rundowns from the NFL Network's news desk.
The NFL's new standalone skill for Amazon Alexa follows the league's initial foray into voice-enabled apps with a flash briefing called "NFL in :60." The fresh "Rookie's Guide" app offers more interactivity and a deeper knowledge base of football statistics, history and jargon that can appeal both to hardcore fans and newbies to the sport. The league is working to innovate through technology and bonus content in order to cultivate the next generation of fans as the average age of viewers continues to creep upward and younger consumers have access to more sources of entertainment, including streaming TV shows, esports, video games and social media apps.
"Rookie's Guide" also illustrates how the NFL is seeking more control of its brand on voice platforms like Alexa. The Alexa skill store has other third-party apps that refer to football in trivia games, quizzes, flash cards and news readers. As TechCrunch points out, an Alexa update last fall helped users find answers to questions about NFL teams, players and game predictions, among other information. With "Rookie's Guide," the NFL can bring users of those skills under its own umbrella with similar interactivity that engages and entertains sports fans beyond traditional game content.
Meanwhile, Amazon is cultivating a significant community of voice-app developers, as recent growth in Alexa skills shows. The number of Alexa skills in the U.S. more than doubled last year to 56,750. The skill count rose even faster in overseas markets. Amazon skills for the U.K. market more than tripled to 29,910, while Germany saw growth of 152%, according to Voicebot.ai. That kind of growth makes Alexa more valuable to a wider group of consumers, just as the voice assistant space becomes increasingly competitive with new products and players like Apple and Google gaining market share.