Podcasts are coming to YouTube Music, but there is a caveat
YouTube Music is getting dedicated support for podcasts soon, according to a recent announcement by YouTube's head of podcasting Kai Chuk. Chuk revealed the plan during the Hot Pod Summit. The company plans to expand the podcast experience on YouTube through its YouTube Music subscription service.
YouTube is a popular destination for podcasts already, but not in the traditional audio-centric sense. Many podcasters upload video recordings of their podcasts, or parts thereof, to YouTube. It is a cheap way to increase the reach of the podcast and generate new listeners on the main platforms. Also, there is money to be made on YouTube as well.
YouTube launched a dedicated Podcasts directory in mid-2022, but it focused on video podcasts.
Google plans to extend the offering by including dedicated audio podcasts, which will then be available exclusively on YouTube Music.
YouTube Music and Premium, which includes YouTube Music and an ad-free environment on YouTube, reached 80 million subscribers last year. This puts Google's paid YouTube offerings next to Apple Music, which had about 88 million subscribers in mid-2022. Spotify, on the other hand, has more than 200 million subscribers worldwide at the time.
Spotify focused on podcasts in recent years, as it saw podcasts as an opportunity to bind subscribers and generate more revenue. The company signed several exclusive deals with podcasters in the past.
YouTube Music will get an enhanced feature set for podcasts and there may also be a free ad-supported podcast listening option. Google plans to highlight audio podcasts on YouTube to highlight the feature and create specific podcast recommendations for users who listen to podcasts. There will also be library controls, and the ability to continue listening to podcasts on all connected devices.
According to the report, Google is currently not looking to sign exclusive deals with podcasters to promote the service. The company plans to add RSS upload functionality for podcasts to the site though, but it is unclear how that is going to work exactly.
Google has a dedicated podcast app, which is called Google Podcasts. The podcast service launched in 2018 as a web-based service and application for iOS and Android, and it is here to stay, according to Google.
There is still the possibility that Google will merge Google Podcasts into YouTube Music eventually, considering that it has done so with other products in the past already. For now at least, it appears that Google Podcasts continues to remain a standalone product.
YouTube Music Podcasts: the caveat
One of the biggest drawbacks of extended podcasts support on YouTube is that Google plans to support podcasts only in the United States in the beginning. YouTube hints at unlocking the podcasting features to "more regions", but fails to provide a timetable for that.
It remains to be seen how popular YouTube's new audio podcasts service will become. Since it is not exclusive, it seems likely that many existing podcasts will upload their audio files to YouTube to increase their reach further.
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