I still prefer Google Listen —
YouTube podcasts landed on the web last year, and now there’s app support.
YouTube podcasts are officially here.
Rather than getting a standalone app to go with YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Kids, and YouTube TV, podcasts will be part of YouTube Music. Google says app podcast support is rolling out in the US now. The move follows the launch of youtube.com/podcasts last year on the web.
YouTube Music gets a lot of flak for being extremely limited unless you pay for it, with Google paywalling features like background playback and offline playback, but the company says, “This podcast listening experience is different from our music listening experience” and that these features are free for podcasting.
Of course, people have been posting podcasts on YouTube forever, even without Google’s official support. It sounds easy to get set up on the official track, though, even for old content. Podcasts on YouTube are just video playlists with a special “podcast” flag. In YouTube Studio, creators can tag existing playlists as podcasts to put the episodes on the podcast pages and to make them appear in the YouTube Music app. It’s also easy to slap new content into your existing podcast playlist at upload time. The only real requirement is including a special square podcast thumbnail. There is currently no support for uploading audio through RSS feeds, but Google says that’s coming in the future.
Google says it will start promoting podcasts on the “Home” and “Explore” pages of the YouTube Music app, and the demo screenshots highlight popular shows and episodes, with several categories people can browse through. All the usual YouTube monetization options still apply, though YouTube Premium users, who pay a fee to not see ads, will still have to deal with baked-in podcast ads. It doesn’t seem to be possible to pay for ad-free podcasts right now.
Google says podcasts will roll out to other countries in the future. There’s still no word on what will happen to Google’s other current podcast app, Google Podcasts, but a shutdown will probably come eventually. This is Google’s fourth try at podcasting after Google Listen (2009–2012), Google Play Music Podcasts (2016–2020), and Google Podcasts (2018).
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