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Google Podcasts, which is an actual thing, to shut down next year

YouTube Music will be taking up the mantle.

The Google Podcasts logo in grey with its colorful icon is shown against a black background.
Google
Lawrence Bonk
Lawrence Bonk|September 26, 2023 1:26 PM

The Google Podcasts app is heading to a farm upstate run by Marc Maron and Sarah Koenig, as the service is shuttering next year. The app has been around since 2018, but it never approached the kind of mass adoption enjoyed by rivals Overcast, Spotify and the recently-improved Apple Podcasts. In other words, don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it.

The entire service is being folded into YouTube and its companion app YouTube Music. This is for good reason, as YouTube's already a popular destination for podcast fans. According to statistics provided by Edison Research and published by Variety, YouTube services 23 percent of podcast listeners in the US. Google Podcasts, on the other hand, accounts for just four percent of listeners, despite having podcasts right in the name. It’s easier to pick up stakes and head to the where the fish are instead of trying to lure the fish to a random podcast app that nobody knows about.

YouTube announced that 2024 will see a significant increase in its “investment in the podcast experience,” right after parent company Alphabet puts the kibosh on Google’s dedicated app. It looks like YouTube Music will receive the lion’s share of these investments, with forthcoming “robust creation and analytics tools” in addition to streamlined RSS uploads for podcasters.

The company promises to also expand the ability to listen to podcasts in more locations, stating they’ll be available “everywhere YouTube Music listeners are already consuming their favorite content — in the background, in the car, offline and more.” Additionally, new “YouTube-only” tools and capabilities will be coming to podcasts on YouTube Music, though Google remains cagey on the specifics.

As for current Google Podcasts users, there’s going to be a “simple migration tool” to help with the transition to YouTube Music. You’ll also be able to manually add podcast RSS feeds to your YouTube Music library. The company even announced options for adding current podcast subscriptions to rival platforms, if you just want to start fresh. Google's still gathering feedback regarding the migration process, so some of these features are liable to change before next year.

This isn’t the first big move YouTube Music has made this year to shore up some of those sweet, sweet podcast dollars. Back in April, the app launched the ability to watch and listen to podcasts without requiring a paid subscription, though you’ll still have to suffer through endless ads for Better Help. Podcasts on YouTube Music are already full-featured, with offline downloads, background play and the ability to switch between audio and visual content on smart speakers.

Google Podcasts, which is an actual thing, to shut down next year