YouTube’s podcast push started with a new “Podcasts” page. The website youtube.com/podcasts will 404 for some people, but for others, they’ll see a landing page highlighting podcast content. The page was first spotted over the weekend by 9to5Google but has apparently been slowly rolling out since last month.
The podcast page doesn’t do much right now. It shows “Popular Episodes” and “Popular Podcast Playlists” for random shows, and that’s about it. Clicking through still only gives you the normal YouTube interface. It’s a meager first step, but this is all part of the plan, which involves a major push into podcasts from Google’s media brand.
Google already has a podcasting product called “Google Podcasts,” which very slowly grew out of the search division in 2016. It only started to become a viable service around 2020, though, when the iOS app finally launched. Before that, there was Google Play Music Podcasts from 2015 to 2020. Before that, there was the Google Reader-powered “Google Listen,” which lasted from 2009 to 2012. YouTube Podcasts will be Google’s fourth podcasting platform.
Google’s endless product turnover is exhausting, but YouTube is Google’s strongest media brand, so the move to YouTube Podcasts makes a ton of sense. Podcasts are already on YouTube and helping that style of content grow with better discoverability, an audio-only player, and a separate content feed would probably be helpful. This strategy of a custom vertical for content YouTube already has would follow in the footsteps of other (varyingly successful) YouTube verticals like YouTube Music, YouTube Kids, and YouTube Gaming. Assuming the company follows its established “vertical” strategy again, we’re only seeing the beginnings of YouTube Podcasts.
Some of Google/YouTube’s biggest competitors, like Spotify, Amazon, and Apple, have spent millions (or billions) on podcast-related technology and exclusivity deals, and YouTube is trying to keep pace. YouTube recently created the executive role of “Podcast Lead” with the mandate to “manage the large volume of existing podcasts and relationships across the YouTube platform.” The company has also been offering to cover the startup costs for popular podcasts that want to make the jump to video. A supposedly leaked YouTube presentation for podcast producers also promised improvements for creators, like support for RSS uploads, search and discovery enhancements for podcasts, more analytics, and audio-only ads.
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