YouTube Music will start supporting podcasts “in the near future”

The video streaming giant does not plan to licence exclusive or original content, however

YouTube Music will start streaming podcasts “in the near future”, the platform’s head of podcasting, Kai Chuk, has announced.

Speaking at The Verge’s Hot Pod Summit 2023 event, Chuk revealed that users of the music streaming service will be able to play ad-free podcasts in the background with their screen locked. The platform will feature designated badges on shows that are audio-first to distinguish them from video podcasts, and Chuk also said that there would be additional “enhanced library tools” added to YouTube Music following the integration of podcasts.

“Our focus is on creators, so as long as they find it successful and helpful, that’s success for us,” Chuk said. “We’re just focused on the YouTube users and ecosystem and bringing podcasts into that fold.”

Chuk made the announcement during a session with the lead reporter of the audio industry newsletter Hot Pod, Ariel Shapiro. The annual invite-only summit, which took place on 23 February this year, brings together audio industry leaders and creators for panels and discussions about the latest developments in the industry. 

“If someone wants to watch a podcast, we have a solution,” said Chuk. “If someone wants to listen to a podcast only, we should have a great experience for that as well."

This is part of YouTube’s growing expansion of its podcast technology and tools which recently included testing out a new podcast management feature on YouTube Studio which allows for creators to upload shows, mark playlists as podcasts, and view podcast-specific analytics.

Unlike audio giant Spotify, which has made heavy investments into podcast originals and exclusives over the past year, YouTube is not planning to follow down that route. Chuk said that the company is currently not looking to licence original or exclusive podcasts any time soon, as the goal for YouTube Music is to build great podcasting tools for creators. 

Spotify is considered a direct competitor to YouTube in terms of popularity due to the rise of video podcasts, as a recent survey by The Morning Consult revealed that YouTube dominated as the most preferred podcast platform with 1 in 3 listeners agreeing, and Spotify followed closely behind at 24%.