YouTube Music has officially launched its dedicated podcast section for all US listeners, allowing them to stream audio or video podcasts without needing a Premium or Music Premium subscription. This feature is now available on both the Android and iOS apps and will play in the background while users perform other tasks on their devices or cast the shows to other devices like speakers.
The new podcast listening experience includes on-demand, offline, and background listening capabilities, and it allows listeners to seamlessly switch between audio and video versions of podcasts. Additionally, listeners can expect host-read endorsements or sponsorship messages when listening to podcasts, even if they are paying members.
While this move may seem redundant considering Google already has a dedicated Podcasts app, it will provide a unified listening experience for YouTube Music subscribers and may even encourage them to sign up for premium subscriptions. This could make YouTube Music a more competitive alternative to other music streaming services like Spotify, especially for users who want everything in one place.
YouTube has also been expanding its podcast efforts by adding an Explore page for non-Music users, as well as creating personalized carousels like “Keep Listening,” “Recommend Episodes,” and “Your Shows” for its subscribers. The rest of the page is dedicated to podcast discovery, with sections like “Political Commentary,” “History,” “True Crime,” “Gaming,” and more.
The new podcast feature is gradually rolling out to all listeners in the United States, and it complements the podcast video experience already available on YouTube. However, only podcasts or shows that have uploaded video versions of their episodes to YouTube are currently available on the platform.
In Library, Podcasts join the high-level filter for Playlists, Songs, Albums, and Artists. Additionally, the library includes two Auto playlists for “New Episodes” from shows you’ve subscribed to and “Episodes for Later,” as well as any podcasts you’ve added to your library. There are also sub-filters for “Channels” you’ve subscribed to and “Downloads,” which has a “Downloaded Episodes” auto-playlist.
Overall, the addition of the podcast feature to YouTube Music provides a more comprehensive listening experience for its subscribers, and it will be interesting to see how it will fare against other established music streaming services.