YouTube makes moves for podcast dominance with new NPR deal

Hello! I am back from my travels and am in New York only for a bit before flying off to Dallas for Podcast Movement (I just got an “on time” notification from American Airlines, but I am not holding my breath). There will be a fair amount of star power at the conference (Mark Cuban! Audie Cornish!), but I am most looking forward to getting some face time with Hot Pod readers. Also, the gossip — you know I live for the gossip.

Today, YouTube is making some podcast moves, and Meghan Markle finally debuts her Spotify podcast.

Exclusive: (another) study shows YouTube is the most-used podcast platform

I am aware I sound like a broken record, but we really need to be keeping an eye on how YouTube could wield its power in the podcasting space. According to data from Luminate’s 360 Podcast report shared exclusively with Hot Pod, YouTube is the most-used platform for podcasts, with 78 percent of US podcast listeners 13 and older saying they have used the streamer for their shows. That puts it ahead of heavyweights like Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

The findings reflect the same trend reported by Cumulus in May, which reported YouTube snagging the number one spot from Spotify. Luminate dug into some listeners’ preferences, and the stats pretty clearly lay out why YouTube is becoming so popular.

A major factor is the rise of video podcasts. Although listening is still the dominant way people consume podcasts, with 83 percent of respondents saying they listen to their shows, 59 percent said they watch podcasts. Of those surveyed, 42 percent said they do both. Spotify and Apple both support video podcasts, but YouTube is still the default for video.

Plus, podcast users largely want money for nothing and chicks for free. Nearly two-thirds said the price of subscription was an important factor in choosing a podcast platform, and 56 percent said that ease of use mattered, as well. Spotify and Apple Podcasts are also free and easy to use, but YouTube functions like a Google search. Consumers already use it for other things, so why not podcasts? Speaking of…

YouTube launches an official podcast page

YouTube’s presence in podcasting has been largely passive, but it is now embracing its position as the most-used podcast platform by launching a dedicated podcast page. This is the first significant step YouTube has taken in consolidating podcast listening.

The page debuted in late July and is still in the rollout process, according to 9to5Google. It can be accessed only in the US at youtube.com/podcasts or through the Explore page (in-app or browser), where there is a new podcast tab. The new page features trending shows and channels that already have millions of subscribers, like The H3 Podcast or Logan Paul’s podcast, but otherwise does not exhibit a ton of curation.

Podcasting is still small potatoes for YouTube. The streamer brought in $28.8 billion for its parent company, Google, in 2021. Meanwhile, the entire podcast industry just passed $1 billion last year, according to a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. YouTube doesn’t really need to own podcasting, but the page is an indication that the company may put more resources into it anyway and attract more podcast publishers. Which, by the way…

NPR brings more shows to YouTube

The grande dame of audio herself is getting in on the YouTube rush. On Tuesday, NPR announced that it is partnering with YouTube to bring more than 20 of its shows to the streamer. Hits like NPR Politics, Up Firstand Throughline are now available on the platform.

This is not NPR’s first foray into YouTube — the network’s Tiny Desk Concerts have been a hit on the platform for a while (Usher’s recent performance has gotten more than 10 million views). But while Tiny Desk Concerts are filmed, the podcasts are still audio only. And it looks like NPR has been quiet posting podcasts on YouTube for a few months now — episodes of shows like Code Switch and Planet Money started appearing in June.

“We are excited for our podcasts to reach new audiences on YouTube,” Anya Grundmann, SVP of programming and audience development at NPR, said in a statement. “It’ll be great to have our public service journalism searchable and accessible in ways it never has been before.”

We finally get a Meghan Markle podcast on Spotify

I also like to drag my feet on projects, but 20 months!! Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have released their first podcast series with Spotify after cutting a deal with the company in December 2020. Markle-hosted Archetypeswhich debuted Tuesday, is an interview show that attempts to deconstruct “the labels that try to hold women back.”

In the first episode, Markle talks to Serena Williams, who recently announced her retirement from tennis, about the double standards applied to ambitious women. She also taps UC Berkeley professor Laura Kray for her expert analysis on gender in the workplace. If that all sounds a little too academic, the show also has what you really came for: juicy royal gossip.

The series was first announced in the spring, following a hiccup in the relationship between the Sussexes’ Archewell Audio and Spotify. In January, the deal appeared to be on shaky ground when the studio raised concerns about Spotify’s handling of Joe Rogan’s COVID misinformation. The situation seems to be resolved.

It is too soon for the show to appear on Spotify’s charts. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see how it does — Spotify has didn’t have the best luck with its homegrown celebrity podcasts, but maybe Markle will be the one to break that streak.

That’s all for now! I’ll be back next week with highlights from Podcast Movement.

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