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Google To Shut Down Its Podcast App Next Year, Pushing Listeners To YouTube.

After spending years of playing catch-up with its standalone podcast app, Google has announced that it will close the Google Podcast app next year as it puts more of an emphasis on growing its audience on YouTube. “As part of this process, we’ll be helping Google Podcasts users move over to Podcasts in YouTube Music,” the tech giant said Tuesday. In the announcement explaining its decision, Google says the public has spoken. It points to Edison Research data that shows 23% of weekly podcast users in the U.S. say YouTube is their most frequently used service, versus just 4% for Google Podcasts.

The move to consolidate podcasts under the YouTube banner has been expected in podcast circles as the company has put more of its resources into the video app, including adding new features to appeal to podcast listeners as well as consumers who would rather watch video produced by a show. In April, it added the ability to watch and listen to podcasts on YouTube Music in the U.S., without requiring a paid membership. That means users can listen in background play mode without the content stopping.

“Looking forward to 2024, we’ll be increasing our investment in the podcast experience on YouTube Music — making it a better overall destination for fans and podcasters alike with YouTube-only capabilities across community, discovery and audio/visual switching,” the company says in a blog post. “As part of this process, we’ll be helping Google Podcasts users move over to podcasts in YouTube Music,” it says.

The Google Podcasts app debuted in June 2018 as part of the company’s quest to capture more of the listening that its search engines were cataloging. Google Podcasts crossed an important milestone with the app reaching 100 million installs in April 2021, but it has not offered any update on the app’s progress since then. Google now says it is announcing the closing of the Google Podcast app well in advance to give podcasters and listeners time to make the transition.

For users, it means using a migration tool and the ability to add podcast RSS feeds to their YouTube Music library, including shows not currently hosted by YouTube. For those who prefer a different listening platform, the tools will also include an option to download an OPML file of their show subscriptions, which they can upload to an app that supports their import.

For podcasters, Google says the change means they will get more robust creation and analytics tools, as well as RSS uploads, in addition to making their podcasts available everywhere YouTube Music listeners are already consuming their favorite content.

“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,” says Google.

In the coming weeks and months, Google says it will collect feedback to make the migration process from Google Podcasts to YouTube Music as simple and easy as possible. In the meantime, Google says nothing is changing and podcast fans will continue to have access to YouTube, YouTube Music and Google Podcasts.

Google Podcasts is slated to become the third major listening app to close down in the past few years as the podcast industry matures. SiriusXM closed the Stitcher podcast app in August, saying it will incorporate podcasts into its flagship subscription business ahead of the release of a new SiriusXM app later this year. The Stitcher app reportedly had more than 14 million users at its peak, although its user numbers were believed to be much smaller by the time it went dark.

Earlier, Acast shut down its listening app last year, deciding to instead focus on its advertising and hosting business.

Other apps have gone through ownership changes, such as Pocket Casts. Launched by NPR, New York Public Radio, and Chicago Public Media in 2018, and later taking on BBC as a partner, the app was sold last year to Automattic, the company behind WordPress, Tumblr, Longreads, and WooCommerce for an undisclosed sum.

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