YouTube Music launches enhanced podcast features in the UK

Users will be able to listen to podcasts in the background without paid membership

YouTube Music’s expanded podcast listening features have officially rolled out in the UK, allowing users to listen to podcasts with the screen off and download episodes without a paid membership.

Users will now be able to discover new shows with the Podcasts destination page or through search and filter capabilities and have the option to create their own library of podcasts on the app. Additionally, users will have access to background listening, which was previously a feature that required a paid membership but is now free for podcasts. 

YouTube first announced that it would be introducing podcasts on its Music app at the end of February this year, initially rolling out the feature to US audiences and later to international users in July. The platform also said that it plans to complete its global rollout by the end of this year. 

Currently, podcasters who want to publish their content on YouTube have to upload their shows as videos, but YouTube is working on a new feature which allows creators to upload their podcasts to the YouTube Music app as audio files via traditional RSS feeds. The platform was reportedly already trying out the feature with select creators during a beta testing phase in May, and has confirmed that it plans to roll it out to all users globally by the end of the year. 

“We’re thrilled to be launching podcasts in the UK on YouTube Music,” said YouTube UK and Ireland managing director Alison Lomax. “Podcasts have soared in popularity in recent years among all age groups, particularly Gen Z users, and there is clearly an appetite for this longer–form audio visual content.”

“YouTube is a platform that thrives on community and finding your tribe, and podcasts will be another way of bringing like-minded people together to engage in the content they love. With long-form, Shorts, VOD and now podcasts, YouTube is cementing itself as the platform for multiformat creators and ushering in a new era of creativity on the platform.”

The integration of podcasts on YouTube Music in the UK comes weeks after the tech giant announced that it would be shutting down Google Podcasts next year in order to invest more into podcast tools and features on YouTube Music. The YouTube team plans to create a set of migration tools that can streamline the process of moving users from Google Podcasts to YouTube Music and plans to release its set of guidelines on how to use them in the coming months. 

AFTV is the largest football fan network in the world and we love being able to explore new ways of getting our viewers involved in the conversation on YouTube,” said Robbie Lyle, Founder of AFTV and CEO of Global Fan Network. “With The Invincible and The Fourever Arsenal podcasts already proving a success on the channel, we are delighted that this announcement will make it even easier for more viewers to discover and engage with all our podcasts through YouTube Music.” 

In addition to integrating podcasts on the platform, YouTube also today launched Primetime Channels in the UK which allows users to browse, subscribe, and watch content from streaming services like Paramount+ and History Play without having to leave the app. The feature was previously launched in the US and Germany.