Though YouTube is a hotbed for video podcasts, the Google-owned platform hasn't cracked straight-up audio shows just yet. YouTube podcasting head Kai Chuk announced Thursday that podcasts will be added to YouTube Music soon.
"We will soon start to bring both audio and video-first podcasts to YouTube Music for users in the U.S., making podcasts more discoverable and accessible, with more regions to come," a YouTube spokesperson told TechCrunch. "This will help make the podcasts that users already love on YouTube, available in all the places they want to listen."
Fear not -- background listening will be available for free, so even if you lock your phone while listening, your show will not be interrupted. However, the free service will be ad-supported.
YouTube is looking at ways to support RSS.
Initially, we’ll use RSS to bring shows into podcasting.
(Paraphrasing Steve McLendon, Podcasting Product Lead at Google.)
— Alban 🛫 NYC for Hot Pod Summit (@AlbanBrooke) February 23, 2023
According to reports from the event, YouTube isn't particularly interested in signing exclusive deals with podcasters, which has been a key strategy at Spotify. YouTube also apparently wants to meld the experience of listening to podcasts on video and audio -- so if someone is watching a podcast on video, they can switch to audio in the middle of an episode to listen on-the-go.
This user experience may reduce friction, but it's worth noting that not all video podcasts can translate seamlessly to audio, and vice versa. But creators will have access to podcast tools in the YouTube Studio, making it easier to set videos as podcasts. Later in the year, YouTube told TechCrunch, creators will be able to upload podcasts via RSS feeds directly to the platform.
As of November, YouTube Music and YouTube Premium have over 80 million subscribers, including customers on free trials. Spotify still retains the largest market share in paid music streaming, with over 205 million subscribers.