Today, Google Podcasts remains a standalone application and experience dedicated to just that – podcasts. It recently hit 50 million downloads, and has received a Material You update. However, a few things have come to light today that may indicate Youtube has plans to absorb Podcasts into the video platform. To be clear, there is currently no official news on this, but when you add everything up, a larger picture begins to form.
First, Bloomberg recently reported that Youtube is looking to place an executive “in charge of organizing and managing the millions of podcasts that already exist on the site” in response to a recent job search that was discovered. Despite the standalone Podcasting experience Google owns that’s tied to Search, Youtube is by far one of the top destinations for those listening to podcasts. Ironic, isn’t it?
Aside from Joe Rogan and others who have amassed millions of subscribers for exactly this type of content, there exist many, many creators on the platform who upload just audio with a cover image or podcast feature image for listeners. While this provides little to no visual benefit for ‘viewers’, the sheer scale and visibility of Youtube videos has been a draw for those who prefer audio-only content creation.
With all of that being said, the experience for podcasting on Youtube is pretty terrible, but a new feature that was discovered by 9to5Google today called “Listening controls” may be the start of some change with this. While viewing a music video on their phone, a feature chip overlayed their content which allowed them to pull up a Google Podcasts or Youtube Music style control interface.
Large buttons akin to those you would get in an audio-only program overtook their screen as you can see below. As I said, when you add everything up, it’s clear that Youtube and its parent company Google are likely working on some huge shift to optimize and draw attention to podcasts on the site. To date, Youtube has been a video destination, but the only reason Youtube Music exists is because people made use of the platform for audio content, so there’s no reason they can’t be directly responsible for affecting such a large change again.
I don’t really foresee there being a Youtube Podcasts app that exists separate from Youtube, but you never know. Youtube Gaming existed as a standalone experience before being absorbed back into the core app, so even if the company did splice it, they would probably add it back in a year or two later. I think it would be much better of finding ways to separate this content and filter it out for different users based on their needs or desires. Let me know what you think, and if you get the listening controls, please sound off!