Earlier today, Google announced further moves it will take to get listeners to explore YouTube Music by moving its Google Podcast platform to YouTube Music and shuttering the dedicated podcast app by the end of 2024.
Google has been on a slow and unwieldly journey to consolidate its audio platforms for a while with the company shutting down its Google Play Music service in favor of its nascent YouTube Music offering at the time.
Three years later, YouTube Music will swallow up another Google audio platform in Google Podcasts as the company seeks to conclude a streamlining transition of the two services it announced earlier this year.
Podcasts have slowly been surfacing in YouTube music in the US since April 2023 when Google made the announcement that the music-oriented service would begin supporting RSS uploads.
Looking forward to 2024, we’ll be increasing our investment in the podcast experience on YouTube Music — making it a better overall destination for fans and podcasters alike with YouTube-only capabilities across community, discovery and audio/visual switching. Later in 2024, as part of this process, we’ll be discontinuing Google Podcasts. As part of this process, we’ll be helping Google Podcasts users move over to Podcasts in YouTube Music. This matches what listeners and podcasters are already doing: according to Edison, about 23% of weekly podcast users in the US say YouTube is their most frequently used service, versus just 4% for Google Podcasts.
More importantly, Google is planning to provide Google Podcast users with migration tools such as direct RSS feed uploads and access to OPML import feeds that can be downloaded and uploaded to other platforms.
It is unclear at this point in time whether or not the OPML files can be used in YouTube Music versus manually putting in every single podcast RSS feed.
In the annoucement blog post from YouTube, the company clarifies that the tools aren’t finalized and that “Once we feel the migration tools are ready, we’ll release them along with clear guidelines on how they work.”
Combining Podcast and YouTube Music is a move that should help YouTube Music better position itself against the likes of Spotify and even Apple, who still offers two separate listening experiences for music and podcasts.
As the YouTube annoucement states, more people are listening to audio on the YouTube Music platform and that applies to podcast listeners who prefer to consume content via YouTube rather than the dedicated app.
The more pertinent question going forward for the company is how it will manage search and podcast filtering?
As of now, it’s a gumbo of content where single word or phrase searches for podcast just returns a deluge of associated content that includes YouTube videos, profiles, albums with the phrase included, song videos, artists, feature playlists, and community playlists.
With a dedicated app, Google Podcast was able to surface the right content hassle free, a new combined effort will definitely need foresight that the current level of integration is lacking.
Additionally, will this latest version of YouTube Music support Google Assistant integration, progress tracking for pick up on other devices, and playback ordering?
Nevertheless, OnPodcast will be on YouTube Music once the migration is sorted out, as well as wherever else podcast feeds are being served up.