YouTube Rolls Out Podcasts in Time for Podcast Movement

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For the last couple of years, there’s been a looming question about what role video has in podcasting, and specifically YouTube’s plan. That question was partially answered this week. YouTube started to roll out its Podcasts area to US-based users ahead of Podcast Movement

Recent stats show YouTube becoming a formidable podcasting platform. Edison Research has discovered 55% of Super Listeners — those who consume at least 5 hours of podcasts per week — use YouTube to listen to at least some podcasts.

With that revelation, it makes sense that YouTube would want to lean into podcasting. So let’s look at how this initial version of YouTube Podcasts works and what it means for podcasters. 

YouTube’s Plans Leaked in March

Back in March, PodNews obtained a leaked presentation outlining YouTube’s podcast plans. The new Podcasts section is consistent with what is in that document. 

But YouTube’s actions over the last few years revealed a bigger focus on audio-only, from a dedicated music app to the ability to continue listening to videos even when you do have the mobile app open. 

YouTube Podcasts as a non-logged-in user sees it

How YouTube Podcasts Works

If YouTube Podcasts is available for you, you can go to youtube.com/podcasts. In the app, go to “Explore,” and press the “Podcasts” tile.

There, you’ll see popular episodes, playlists, and creators, as well as recommendations based on your subscriptions and history. You’ll also see a list of common podcast categories: Comedy, True Crime, Sports, Music, and TV & Film. 

What YouTube Considers a Podcast

Looking at the selection, there also seems to be a mix of podcasts (like The Pat McAfee Show and The Lex Friedman Show), as well as anything that “looks” like a podcast. These are generally longer-form talking head videos. 

One example is NBC Nightly News. The most recent full broadcast is the first recommended “podcast episode” in the screenshot above. 

Another is a popular pop culture channel: SuperCarlinBrothers and their “J vs. Ben” series under TV and Film. While it certainly looks like a podcast, there are crucial video components, and it’s definitely a video-first series. 

The truth is that the definition of “a podcast” has changed in recent years, and YouTube appears to be taking some liberties with what they feel is good audio-only content. 

But that still leaves those of us who are audio-only or audio-first wondering: what can we do?

How Can You Leverage YouTube Podcasts?

Back in June on the Creator Insiders channel, Podcast Partner Manager Erica posted some tips for how to present your podcast on YouTube. Here’s what she recommends: 

  1. Use a static image (like your cover art) with the audio if it’s audio-only
  2. Create a public playlist of all full episodes that is the exact name of your podcast
  3. Have one playlist of full episodes for each show
  4. Order your episodes as your want people to consume them
  5. Add the podcast description as the playlist’s description

I would also recommend recording video when you can from here on out. Many podcast recording platforms support recording video. Even if you don’t use it (or it doesn’t make sense), you still have the option.

Converting Your Current Episodes 

There are a few great apps to help you get your podcast into a video format. If you’re a Mac user, check out FusionCast, which was purpose-built for this exact reason: turning audio into a video with a static image. 

If you’re on a PC, Descript is a little more work but will allow you to overlay an image to audio and export it. 

There are also a few automated tools, like Repurpose.io

listening while in medical treatment or recovery

What Does This Mean for Podcasters?

At this point, it’s hard to say what YouTube Podcasts will be or their plans for the immediate future. The long-term is a different story. 

We can see from that leaked presentation that YouTube plans to leverage two things it’s very good at for podcasters: monetization and analytics. 

If your podcast is on YouTube, there could be an opportunity to monetize through ads, memberships, or their “Super” features, which allow direct donations. For podcasters who have trouble monetizing through other methods, this could be a big boon. 

It is worth noting that at the time of writing, YouTube does have a minimum requirement to monetize your channel. You’ll need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. It’s unknown if they’ll relax those requirements for podcasts. 

Another way podcasters will benefit from YouTube is its best-in-class analytics. Because there’s no centralized system, podcasters generally have to rely on 3rd party services like Chartable. The other option is to go to each native platform to review analytics. Until recently, Apple Podcasts’ analytics were unavailable. 

With YouTube being a popular platform for consuming podcasts, it could provide valuable data for podcasters to improve and grow their shows. 

What’s Next?

This is the first of many steps YouTube is taking to plant its foot squarely in podcasting, and it’s no coincidence the rollout is happening the same week as Podcast Movement. YouTube’s Conor Kavanagh said that the destination URL is meant “to help highlight podcast content and to help users discover new content,” and to “let us know if you have any questions.” Look for more information after Podcast Movement, as Kai Chuk, YouTube’s Head of Podcasting, will present Finding Success on YouTube, on Thursday the 25th.