Google recently announced that it will be sunsetting its dedicated Google Podcasts app in 2024. Instead, the company will focus its podcasting efforts entirely through YouTube Music. For avid podcast listeners, this shift signifies the end of an era but also new beginnings.
The Official Announcement: Google Podcasts Going Away
In late September 2023, Google and YouTube published blog posts confirming that Google Podcasts would be discontinued sometime in 2024. They cited growing podcast adoption on YouTube Music in the rationale behind consolidating creators and listeners onto one central platform.
According to their data, about 23% of weekly podcast users in the U.S. currently use YouTube as their primary listening app compared to just 4% still actively relying on Google Podcasts.
The transition process aims to be as seamless as possible for users. When the time comes, Google will provide tools for subscribers to either:
- Directly migrate their podcast subscriptions and account data to YouTube Music
- Or export an OPML backup file to import into another third-party podcasting app
Initial reactions among podcast fans were mixed. While YouTube Music offers plenty of upside, others worry that the video-first platform may not provide the most intuitive podcast discovery and listening experience.
Impact on Listeners and Podcast Creators
For the average podcast listener, the switch from Google Podcasts to YouTube Music may require some minor adaptations but presents certain advantages too.
YouTube Music supports background listening, offline downloads, and synced progress across mobile, desktop, and smart speakers. So core functionality stays consistent. The main change is getting acquainted with new interfaces optimized for YouTube's audio-visual environment.
Potential issues could arise for podcasters whose content fails to meet YouTube's community guidelines and standards. The ability to directly upload RSS feeds helps mitigate this but still introduces more gatekeeping than the open ecosystem podcast creators are used to.
On the positive side, YouTube Music provides invaluable exposure to new audiences that simply browse or search for topics on the platform itself. There is also greater incentive for podcasters to experiment with video versions or supplemental content given YouTube's video-first DNA.
Google Podcasts Alternatives: Where to Go Next
If you wish to move your podcast subscription away from the Google ecosystem entirely, there are a few worthy alternative podcast platforms to consider:
For many critics, Pocket Cast is considered the ideal podcast portal – and for good reason. The app delivers a streamlined interface packed with powerful features and customizations.
- Ad-free listening
- Cross-device syncing
- Granular audio settings
- Sharing and playlist creation
- Confusing pricing tiers
Thanks to Spotify’s popularity as a music streaming service, it makes tapping into podcasts feel like a natural extension for most users.
- Seamless blending of music and podcasts
- Curated podcast recommendations
- Available across a wide range of devices
- Premium plan upgrades
- Primary focus still on music
- Podcast organization needs improvement
AntennaPod stands out as an open-source podcast player built by volunteers. It brings welcome simplicity compared to some overdesigned apps out there.
- Easy importing of RSS feeds
- Powerful podcast filters
- Open-source ethos
- Free with no ads
- Basic design and interface
- Fewer bells and whistles
Testing a couple podcast apps is advisable to determine personal preferences around factors like UI design, feature set, content availability, and cost.
The Role of YouTube Music in Podcast Streaming
YouTube Music aims to bolster previous half-hearted attempts at supporting podcasts within Google’s ecosystem. The all-in-one media platform allows seamless switching between music tracks, albums, playlists, and now podcast episodes too.
Key perks for podcast lovers on YouTube Music include:
- Integration with Google Assistant and smart home devices
- Background audio playback
- Downloads for offline listening
- Podcast recommendation engine based on viewing history
YouTube also provides greater incentives for podcast creators to experiment with episodic YouTube shorts, clips, or supplementary video content to enhance listener engagement.
How to Prepare for the Transition: Steps to Take Now
To gear up for Google Podcasts' eventual retirement, listeners should start the process of migrating subscriptions or backing up podcast data well in advance.
Here are some steps to take today:
- Export your Google Podcasts subscriptions: In account settings, find the OPML export tool to download a file containing your subscription data that can be imported into another podcast app.
- Try YouTube Music for free: Get familiar with YouTube Music using their 1-month free trial before deciding if it meets your long-term podcast listening needs.
- Follow your favorite shows: Search for your must-listen podcasts on YouTube Music and subscribe to them directly there. This preserves easy access down the road.
- Find alternative podcast apps: Take some podcast apps for a test drive until you land on the right Google Podcasts replacement for you. Install apps like Pocket Casts, Spotify, or AntennaPod to compare.
- Back up podcast episodes: To avoid losing access to any downloaded podcast episodes or playlists, be sure to back up these files or migrate them over to your platform of choice.
Stay tuned for further updates from YouTube about tools and timelines for the Google Podcasts transition process. Reach out in advance if any concerns arise regarding maintaining subscriptions or show archives.