Google’s podcasting efforts today are aligned with Search, but a new report suggests that the existing app might be getting some internal competition from YouTube.
YouTube, officially “a Google company,” is looking to place an executive “in charge of organizing and managing the millions of podcasts that already exist on the site.” This is according to Bloomberg, with a spokesperson confirming the job search.
It comes as many large audio shows often offer video versions of episodes. It usually takes the form of either a live view of people’s faces as they record, or a generic graphic with cover art and other information. The latter is exactly how YouTube’s first-ever podcast, which launched last month and talks about the “rise of the creator economy,” works.
For podcasters, publishing on YouTube, in addition to traditional RSS feeds, gives them a large distribution platform. That said, the experience for end users is not great, as the video feed doesn’t really contribute to what’s being discussed.
There is a lot of room for YouTube to optimize the experience of listening to podcasts on its platform. For example, YouTube in May was curiously testing “Listening controls” that provide a dedicated music player UI in the main app. It’s not hard to see these controls repurposed for podcasts, especially as the 10-second rewind/forward buttons make more sense for audio shows than music.
It’s not clear how a YouTube podcasting effort would impact Google Podcasts. The company previously positioned audio as being important to the future of Search. It imagined podcasts and information from them appearing in web results. Google Podcasts today offers an index and transcribes episodes for a search capability.
The app was recently redesigned on Android with simplified navigation and usability tweaks, as well as Material You. The iOS client has yet to see those updates, with users overall appreciating the simplicity of Google Podcasts.
It’s not clear whether that straightforward design would translate to YouTube. Podcasts are competing with everything from regular videos to music, movies, TV shows, and Shorts. Of course, YouTube broke out Music into its own experience, but it’s unlikely there would be a dedicated “YouTube Podcasts” app.
Before the Search-aligned Podcasts app, podcasting was part of Google Play Music. It would certainly be amusing if shows found their way to YouTube Music if this upcoming effort proves successful.
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