Google announced this morning it will be shutting down its Google Podcasts app later in 2024 as part of its broader transition to move its streaming listeners over to YouTube Music. The company earlier this year announced YouTube Music would begin supporting podcasts in the U.S., which will expand globally by year-end, and more recently said it was adding the ability for podcasters to upload their RSS feeds to YouTube also by year-end.
Today, Google says it plans on further increasing its investment in the podcast experience on YouTube Music and making it more of a destination for podcast fans with features focused on discovery, community and switching between audio podcasts and video. The latter is something rival Spotify has also been working on with its rollout of video podcast support to creators worldwide last year, along with community features like Q&As and polls.
However, to make YouTube Music the new home for podcasts, that means moving users away from the current offering, Google Podcasts. The company notes this plan reflects how people are already listening. According to Edison, about 23% of weekly podcast users in the U.S. say YouTube is their most frequently used service versus just 4% for Google Podcasts.
To help users with the transition to YouTube Music, the company will offer Google Podcast users a migration tool and the ability to add podcast RSS feeds to their YouTube Music library, including shows that aren’t currently hosted by YouTube — something it had announced last month was in the works. These migration tools aren’t yet available but will be worked on in the coming weeks and months before being rolled out to all users.
In addition, Google will also support the option to download an OPML file of their show subscriptions from Google Podcasts, which they can upload to any app that supports importing if they don’t want to move to YouTube Music.
“We know this transition will take time, but these efforts will allow us to build an amazing product and a single destination that rewards creators and artists and provides fans with the best Podcasts experience,” a YouTube blog post explained. “For now, nothing is changing and fans will continue to have access to YouTube, YouTube Music, and Google Podcasts. We’re committed to being transparent in communicating future changes with our users and podcasters and will have more to share about this process in the coming months,” it said.
Google has been slowly shifting users away from older products in its effort to make YouTube Music more of a competitor to Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and others. In 2020, YouTube Music offered a similar transition strategy to move music listeners away from Google Play Music ahead of its shutdown that year. However, podcasts have a more difficult product because so many users turn to YouTube itself to listen to podcasts, not to the dedicated Google Podcasts app. Meanwhile, YouTube Music hasn’t been ready to support podcasts until more recently.
The move will leave only Apple among the major players that hasn’t consolidated music and podcasts into a single destination, as Spotify, Amazon and Pandora all offer both types of audio in their flagship applications.