Earlier this year, reports emerged that YouTube would soon add a dedicated podcasts homepage — a signal the company was getting more serious about its investments in podcasts and the potential ad revenue they could deliver. Today, YouTube confirmed to TechCrunch the new podcasts destination is now live for U.S. users, after the URL was discovered to be live ahead of any formal announcement.
According to a report by 9to5Google, the dedicated podcast page YouTube.com/podcasts went live sometime last month and is now linked, at least for some users, on YouTube’s existing Explore page alongside other top destinations like Gaming, Sports, Learning, Fashion and others. It did not appear in the website’s sidebar navigation, however.
Reached for comment, YouTube told TechCrucnh the URL is not globally available at this time.
“The podcast destination page on YouTube helps users explore new and popular podcast episodes, shows and creators, as well as recommend podcast content,” said YouTube spokesperson, Paul Pennigton. “It’s currently available in the U.S. only.”
YouTube declined to answer further questions about the company’s plans for podcasts in general or the destination itself — hinting that a broader announcement was still to come. (It’s possible this will be one of the announcements planned for a YouTube creator event scheduled for next month, if we had to guess.)
Before today, there were already a number of hints that YouTube was getting more serious about podcasts — particularly after Spotify entered the space with its support for video podcasts.
Last year, YouTube hired a podcast executive, Kai Chuk, to lead its efforts in the space and has been offering cash to popular podcasters to film their shows, reports said. This March, a site called Podnews leaked an 84-page presentation that detailed YouTube’s podcast roadmap. In the document, YouTube revealed it had plans to pilot the feature by ingesting RSS feeds. It also mentioned a new URL, YouTube.com/podcasts, but the link didn’t work at the time.
The document also helps to clarify some of YouTube’s thinking around podcasts, as it suggested YouTube had plans to feature audio ads sold by Google and other partners. This could present a potential new revenue stream for the tech giant at a time when the younger generation has shifted their search behavior from Google to other platforms, like TikTok. The document said YouTube planned to roll out audio-first metrics to creators and integrate YouTube data into podcast measurement platforms, including Nielsen, Chartable and Podtrac, as well.
The addition of a top-level landing page for podcasts is a fairly significant move for the company.
As different YouTube verticals have grown in importance and popularity, YouTube would highlight these categories by offering them their own homepages on its site and feature them as a link in its main navigation. Notably, it did this with YouTube Gaming back in 2015 and with YouTube Fashion (now Fashion & Beauty) in 2019. On mobile, it also features a prominent link to YouTube Music that opens the companion app for YouTube’s Music service. Presumably, it could do the same with podcasts in the future, if it wanted to capitalize on its ability to drive traffic from its flagship app to its streaming service.
YouTube’s advances in podcasting follow significant investments on Spotify’s part into the medium. The company has spent more than $1 billion on related acquisitions. It brought studios and exclusive shows in-house, launched paid podcast subscriptions and developed podcast ad tech platforms and services. Spotify hyped the revenue potential for its podcast efforts this June, noting that its podcasting business generated roughly €200 million last year, up 300% from 2020.