Why Podcasters Will Be Stuck Doing Video

There is a battle brewing and traditional podcasters are not going to like it. By the end of the year, it’s going to be essential that podcasters are creating proper video versions of their shows.

A lot of podcasting has, in one way or another, come from radio. Whether that’s radio shows that have become podcasts, radio people who’ve jumped to the podcast sector or just hosts inspired by what they’ve heard before – radio has helped incubate podcasting.

However there’s a new wave of podcasters who don’t have radio as their progenitor but instead have YouTubers.

The super-spreader for this is probably Joe Rogan, but YouTube performers have often grown podcasts off the back of their initial channels. Channels like H3H3 Productions have the H3 Podcast, Rhett and Link (from Good Mythical Morning) have Ear Biscuits, Cal Freezy developed The Fellas and Jaackmate created Jaackmate’s Happy Hour.

These YouTube-native folks have, unsurprisingly, made sure that their podcasts exist as videos too. Also the nature of these shows are all very similar – a pair, or gang, of people chatting – sometimes with guests. There’s no fiction, or documentary, no real out and about recording, no sound design, no scripting. They are all a very particular type of chat podcast.

The scale of their YouTube publishing has resulted in a lot of their audience thinking ‘podcasts’ are what these people are doing. It’s also why nearly 20% of podcast listeners regard YouTube as their main podcast app. In another article, Tom Webster from Edison Research, warns podcasters to be careful saying “get this wherever you get your podcasts” if they don’t put their show on YouTube.

This group of creators and listeners are helping to redefine what podcasts are – in form, content and platform.

Spotify’s podcasting operation has also been leaning into this podcasts-from video-position.

Spotify is the podcast home of Joe Rogan, Jaackmate and The Fellas. They have also re-architected their app so listeners can choose to become viewers at any point by pulling up the scrub bar. Below is an example from The Fellas.

This is something that Spotify has opened up for some users of its podcasting hosting service Anchor, but they’ve really been rolling it out for many of their originals. There is no current way for third parties to provide video to Spotify.

What Spotify has recognised is that YouTubers do good business as podcasters, but their split loyalties to video means they’ve got to service that. Plus, they’re scared that YouTube (which also has a successful subscription music service) could eat their podcast lunch.

Over at YouTube, even with 18% of users using it as their main podcast app, there is no actual podcast-specific functionality at the moment. That’s expected to change pretty soon.

They’ve hired a head of podcasts – Kai Chuk and have also been offering US podcasters and networks grants of up to $300k to start filming their podcasts to deploy on YouTube. We’ll probably hear more about their plans at the end of the week as Chuk gives a speech at Podcast Movement Evolutions in LA.

For podcasters keen to grow their audience, YouTube – already the world’s second biggest search engine – is going to be an important platform to program for, as it tunes its product to look after podcasters.

Its algorithm will likely follow how it surfaces videos – watch-time and engagement. Just slinging up an audiogram so there’s some moving video whilst your audio plays is unlikely to garner much distribution.

Of course the chat-casts of Joe Rogan and The Fellas are pretty easy to film, but a documentary series or a narrative drama are going to be much more difficult.

The issue for audio-native podcasters is that YouTube is already one of the most successful podcast clients, even without the vast majority of shows on it. As the platform advertises itself as a podcast destination and as its fellow chat-casters start shouting about it, it’s likely to grow even bigger.

There’s no reason why this initiative won’t bring a large number of new people to ‘podcasts’ but could also realign the Apple Podcasts-Spotify hegemony that exists at the moment.

If you’re making a podcast now, I’d get ready to produce that video version. Whether you like the idea of doing it or not.

AOB

I appeared on Radio 4’s Feedback last week talking about podcast exclusives and the BBC’s decision to ‘window’ some of their radio show on BBC Sounds. I’m on from 19mins 40s here.

On The Media Podcast I talked to Times Radio’s Matt Chorley and City University Professor and Author Lis Howell. Subscribe in your audio podcast app of choice.

The British Podcast Awards are currently open for entries. You’ve got just under three weeks to get your podcast in.

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