YouTube Music is moving into podcasts. YouTube proper hosts video versions of many podcasts, some of which accrue hundreds of thousands or even millions of views per episode. The audio service hasn't ventured into podcast territory just yet, but that's about to change, YouTube's podcast chief Kai Chuk announced at the Hot Pod Summit on Thursday.
"We will soon start to bring both audio and video-first podcasts to YouTube Music for users in the US, making podcasts more discoverable and accessible, with more regions to come," a YouTube spokesperson told Engadget. "This will help make the podcasts that users already love on YouTube, available in all the places they want to listen."
YouTube is focused on unifying the audio and video experience for the audience.
Start watching a podcast at home, listen during your commute (maybe finish watching at work).
— Alban 🛫 NYC for Hot Pod Summit (@AlbanBrooke) February 23, 2023
Podcast creation tools are coming to YouTube Studio and, later this year, it'll be possible for creators to add audio podcasts to YouTube via RSS feeds. "Podcast playlists will be eligible for current and upcoming podcast features on YouTube, such as eligibility for youtube.com/podcasts, podcast badging and inclusion in the YouTube Music app," the spokesperson said.
Background podcast listening will be available for free, according to TechCrunch. However, there will be ads unless you subscribe to YouTube Music. It also seems that users will be able to switch between video and audio versions of podcast episodes.
At least for now, it doesn't seem that YouTube is planning to follow the likes of Spotify and Amazon by having exclusive and/or original podcasts. Whether YouTube Music can make a dent in Spotify and Apple's share of the market remains to be seen, but by blending audio and video podcasts together and taking advantage of YouTube's enormous reach, it can certainly make a play for listeners' attention.