YouTube – an interactive podcast platform for audio makers

More and more audio makers are using the world's largest video platform. With success.

YouTube as a podcast platform?
Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Head of EMEA at YouTube on Congress Stage at DMEXCO 2019

When you think of YouTube, you either immediately think of moving images or of “the second largest search engine in the world“. Only very few people know that the platform is one of the main channels for listening to podcasts. According to a recent survey by Today’s Podcast Listener in Canada, 43% of listeners search for their podcasts on YouTube. That’s almost twice as many as the ones searching through Spotify.

How’s that?

The tremendous increase in podcast offers on YouTube has two reasons. First, established YouTube stars are hopping on the audio bandwagon and launching new podcasts. To make their offer known, they are relying on their existing YouTube community and the reach they have already achieved on the platform.

The 22-year-old YouTube star David Dobrik (13.9 million subscribers), for example, launched the podcast “VIEWS” together with his 45-year-old father. On YouTube, the podcast channel already has over 500,000 subscribers. But the young YouTuber has also placed his podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Second, podcasters use the video platform to promote their content and test other formats across media. This includes entire shows of longer duration and more in-depth content. YouTube offers the optimal space for these formats.

One such podcaster, for example, is Joe Rogan, who has 6.32 million subscribers on his “PowerfulJRE” channel. YouTube is the main channel with which the American comedian, actor and sports commentator reaches millions of viewers for every new podcast episode.

Implementation is carried out in various ways. Many podcasters simply overlay the sound with a still image, others like David Dobrik from YouTube film themselves during the recording of the podcast – sometimes even from several perspectives and elaborately edited.

The potential

Spotify and others offer a huge range of podcasts. What is missing here, however, are interaction possibilities and format diversity. YouTube, on the other hand, can offer exactly these missing benefits. And these are by no means all the advantages of the video platform.

With over 1.9 billion active users per month, YouTube is one of the most globally successful social platforms on the Internet. Anyone who places content here has the opportunity to reach an international audience and increase its reach to the immeasurable. In comparison, Spotify has around 200 million active users worldwide every month.

active users per month

The subtitle feature allows content to be played in several languages at the same time. Therefore, German podcasts can also be heard or “read” by an international audience, for example. In addition to reach and plenty of room for creativity (e.g., dividing longer formats into short audio snippets), YouTube also offers a monetary advantage over other platforms for audio formats. Through the use of programmatic advertising, podcasters can not only earn money with partnerships incorporated in the content, but also with external advertisements. You can find an overview of all YouTube ad formats for monetizing videos here.

The advantages of YouTube as a podcast platform at a glance:

  • International audience
  • Target group growth
  • Multilingualism
  • Format diversity
  • Interaction possibilities
  • Monetization through programmatic advertising
  • Easy integration into other content such as blog posts and social media posts

There is one shortcoming

Podcasts are so popular not least because they can be listened to from anywhere. Whether on the way to work, at the gym or at home on the couch, audio formats do not have any restrictions with regard to location. However, if you don’t have a Premium YouTube account, you can forget about listening on the go. As soon as the phone screen is either locked or switched to another app, mobile listening via YouTube stops.

So, now what?

For the video giant, the boom could lead to the development of a new line of business. For example, a specially created podcast search section would most likely bring more listeners to the platform and further promote the user behavior that is currently evolving. What YouTube will ultimately make of this remains uncertain.

For providers of audio formats, however, placement on the platform is always an option. YouTube provides a valuable tool for the development and growth of podcast formats.

The bottom line

Whether YouTube plays along or not, podcasters will find it worthwhile to place their content on YouTube. Although podcasts are known as a medium to be enjoyed on the go, there seem to be many users who take their daily audio dose at home or using a premium YouTube account. In order to be successful and to build as large a reach as possible, it makes the most sense to pursue a cross-media strategy and place content on as many platforms as possible.