Carrusel Deportivo introduces synthetic media to a century-old radio station

By Olalla Novoa Ojea

Cadena SER - PRISA Media

Madrid, Madrid, Spain


Who would have thought of introducing a synthetic voice on a frenetic sports radio show?

Well, we did.

Victoria, the voice of soccer, is a branded synthetic voice created to be part of Carrusel Deportivo, the main sports show on Cadena SER. But how do you introduce an AI-generated voice to a 100-year-old news radio leader in the Spanish-speaking world?

Well, as we say around here: despacito. That means, as you know, very carefully.

Jokes aside, the creation of Victoria has been an ambitious quest for innovation. It was a fascinating journey involving teams throughout the company: editorial, tech, product, comms, sales, intellectual property department … you name it!

For those unfamiliar with the radio scene in Spanish, you should know that Carrusel Deportivo has narrated every major soccer competition in Spain for over 70 years. Every weekend — and whenever there is an important match — Carrusel’s team dissects all a soccer fan needs to know before, during, and after the game. 

It is not only a strong brand on its own but also the main sports program on the leader news radio station in Spain: Cadena SER, a Prisa Media company.

Dani Garrido, host and producer of Carrusel Deportivo, came up with the name Victoria for the strong female AI voice.
Dani Garrido, host and producer of Carrusel Deportivo, came up with the name Victoria for the strong female AI voice.

How we did it

Carrusel Deportivo’s team and Cadena SER’s sports managing editor were crucial in bringing Victoria to life. 

It all started with a series of workshops to define the main characteristics of our voice’s personality: How should it be perceived by our audiences? What were its main character traits? How would it sound — what should be the rhythm and tone that would fit perfectly into Carrusel Deportivo’s audio footprint?

We looked at everything from age and gender to personality, name, and role that our synthetic voice should play.

We decided it would be a female in her 40s, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and energetic. And after quite a few brainstorming sessions, it was finally Dani Garrido, host and producer of Carrusel Deportivo, the one to name her: Victoria, a powerful name that embodies both the zest for competition and the joy of a champion.

We defined Victoria’s personality, sound DNA, and interaction behaviour. Then it was time to give it some visual expression. Our design team created a logo in the shape of a soccer field crossed by a sound wave that will eventually evolve into a moving avatar with the help of OKB Interactive Studio.

Training days

From there, we delved into an intense process of AI training with the support of Monoceros Labs. This involved creating an extensive dataset covering Victoria’s different use cases with more than 4,200 sentences, high-quality studio recordings by four different female voices, and an iterative process training neural AI models until we got the voice that matched the requirements we had previously defined for Victoria.

We also started working on a dictionary to ensure Victoria’s correct pronunciation of thousands of names and soccer-related terms.

Going public

Victoria, the voice of soccer, is also a story of cross-platform and cross-brand experimentation. Victoria debuted on Carrusel Deportivo last November and also helps fans follow their teams 24/7 through Alexa. On Amazon’s platform, Victoria delivers a complete experience around the user’s favourite soccer team combining assets from Cadena SER, Diario As (Prisa’s sport newspaper), and sports data.

By invoking Victoria on Alexa, a soccer fan can easily access any of Cadena SER’s live broadcasts of a team’s game. Victoria also provides information on upcoming matches, sends reminders, and informs about the day’s games. Additionally, it offers the chance to listen to the latest news for a team, updated live from Diario As newsroom and read by Victoria. Finally, users can check on statistics such as goals, penalties, shots, red and yellow cards, and fouls.

The experience is designed around the user’s team, but it allows to retrieve information for any of the 42 teams that currently play in Spain’s La Liga First and Second Division Championships, as well as last year’s World Championship. 

Finally, this year Victoria is also going on tour. As part of our century anniversary celebrations, Cadena SER will hold commemorative events throughout Spain. Victoria will be the co-host, representing everything that the future of radio offers.

Victoria is not only an innovative step forward for Cadena SER in the emerging world of synthetic media; this is a bridge between analogue radio and new distribution channels focused on interactive audio. And, above all, Victoria is a personalised product tailored to each of our listeners, offering them a combination of digital assets from different Prisa brands on demand to serve their needs better.

About Olalla Novoa Ojea

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