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AI-Generated Visuals May Be YouTube’s Next Podcast Play.

Could AI be a way for podcasters to create a visual element for the back-catalog episodes they are uploading to YouTube? Chief Product Officer Johanna Voolich is not saying. “That is definitely an interesting idea that we will take into account,” she says with a knowing smile in a company update about where podcasting fits into the YouTube plan. Voolich was a lot more definitive on whether YouTube will become a full-fledged hosting platform, where podcasters could upload a show and see the video site use RSS to distribute the audio version of that episode to other apps.

“RSS out isn’t on our roadmap right now,” Voolich said. “But we do have the ability to support RSS in. So that allows creators to unlock and have access to the 2 billion users and viewers that are already on our platform.”

YouTube announced in January that it would allow creators to upload shows to YouTube through an RSS feed. Once the content is uploaded, a static image video will automatically be created from show art for each episode to be posted on the app. It also made updates to the Android Auto experience for easy in-car listening, enhanced download options, and added customizable playlist sorting. YouTube also revamped its recommendation and discovery algorithms to help creators and listeners discover new content effortlessly.

Those changes came as Google was in the process of shifting podcasters and listeners away from its now-sunset Google Podcast apps over to the YouTube Music app. In a conversation with YouTube Creator Liaison Rene Ritchie posted on the site, Voolich says it is something they have been working on for the past year, to ensure all of the traditional podcasting features would be available on YouTube Music.

“The first thing we did was actually just pull in podcast content. But then also traditional things like being able to play in a series, continue watching, have a shelf for discovery. And so we want YouTube Music to be that one-stop shop for all of you listening,” she said. But while Voolich says they have been spending a lot of time making the YouTube Music app much better at supporting the RSS-delivered traditional experience, they also think about podcasts as an “eyes optional” experience. “So stuff that’s great to hear and listen to, but also can be great to watch as well. And that’s available both on YouTube Music and on YouTube,” she explained.

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