YouTube Music has reportedly started rolling out a new feature allowing users to automatically download new episodes of their favourite podcasts, according to tech news website 9to5Google, marking the latest step in the platform’s plan to become the go-to destination for podcast listening.
Users can activate the feature by visiting a show page, saving a podcast to their library through the settings, and turning on the auto-download function. Episodes will remain in the user’s library even after they are finished listening, although there is no confirmation on whether they will be deleted after a certain amount of time has passed.
This functionality is similar to features currently included in Google Podcasts, and the launch follows the announcement that the Google Podcasts app will be officially sunset in 2024, as the company invests more in podcast tools and features on YouTube Music.
Auto-downloads on YouTube Music are currently available for users with version 6.21 of YouTube Music for Android and iOS. Google is planning to finish the global rollout of podcast features on YouTube Music by the end of 2023, including enhanced analytics and improved podcast discovery.
Google also plans to introduce full support for importing podcasts to YouTube Music via RSS feed - instead of requiring creators to upload their shows as videos - by the end of this year, as announced by Google’s podcasting product lead Steve McLendan at this year’s Podcast Movement.
In the months leading up to 2024, the YouTube team is planning to release clear guidelines on how to use migration tools to transition to using YouTube Music before shutting down Google Podcasts, based on feedback from users in the coming weeks and months. Until then, users will continue to have access to YouTube, YouTube Music, and Google Podcasts.
“We’ve seen creators and artists really embrace Podcasts on YouTube, and its incredible potential to boost audience growth across audio and video formats,” the YouTube team said in a statement. “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.”
As YouTube continues to expand its podcast strategy, the platform recently signed a data integration partnership with iHeart Media-owned audio adtech company Triton in August to provide advertisers access to data on how podcast content is being consumed across platforms and bringing video podcast analytics to Triton’s measurement service.