Breaking news on a deskEvery advance in computer tech and internet speed drives home the point that multimedia content is here to stay. What started as a luxury in the dial-up days has quickly become a requirement, if you want to attract and retain site visitors. For media content owners that create primarily text-based content, this creates a potential media distribution problem. How do you deal with the constantly evolving demands of the news world, without abandoning what you do best? Reading is far from dead, but it’s also far from the only way to reach people. Present your content only in text, and you automatically cut off a large portion of potential visitors. Learning disabilities, visual impairments, second-language complications, and literacy issues affect millions, making reading difficult or impossible. Then, there are the multi-taskers, for whom setting aside dedicated reading time simply isn’t an option. Speech-enabling your news content is a great way to reach those people, and you have a number of options for doing so. Let’s compare automatic text-to-speech technology and pre-recorded content, to see which works best for distribution of media content.

Text to Speech v. Pre-recorded Content: The Pros and Cons

The key point most raise in favor of pre-recorded content is the belief that it sounds more natural. There’s a common misconception that automatic text-to-speech software produces a robotic voice that sounds like your GPS telling you to “turn left… turn left now… u-turn,” but that’s simply not the case with today’s technology. The gap has been narrowed to the point that it’s quite difficult to tell the difference between the voice produced by a quality text-to-speech program and a recorded voice.

  • A great voice-over or broadcast talent may lend some gravity and emotion to your content, but at a considerable cost. You will need to pay that talent, and pay for professional recording or high-quality DIY recording equipment. You’ll also need that voice talent and recording professional to be available at the same time to record the initial content. That’s to say nothing of the edits that are inherent in this sort of process.
  • Since pre-recording takes considerable time logistically, it also blocks you out from quickly posting audio content on breaking situations. With a 24-hour news cycle that’s growing shorter by the day, that’s a real problem.
  • Text to speech, on the other hand, is automatic. You don’t have to track down voice talent or recording professionals, then cross your fingers that your distribution of media content remains on budget. Instead, you can focus on writing great content, and allow the software to handle the entire speech-enabling process.
  • Text to speech also streamlines the process of presenting audio content in multiple languages. If you can write it, text to speech can read it.
  • Loading times are less of an issue now that high-speed internet is so widely available, but big multimedia files from pre-recorded content can still make your site lag. Text to speech eliminates that issue, working seamlessly in the background.
  • Text to speech is also easy for your site visitors to use. With just one click, users can quickly listen to speech-enabled content. If they want to listen later, they can access the content on all manner of mobile devices. You can also choose to speech-enable mobile applications themselves.

Pre-recording still has its place in specific applications like commercials or podcasts, but it’s just not practical for sites with a lot of textual content that needs to be speech-enabled on a continuous basis. Text to speech is more efficient, and it scales to fit tasks of any size. If you want to broaden your distribution of media content and see your site reach more readers, text to speech is an ideal way to go about this. [speech-enabling_websites] Image Credit: Moses Mehraban