The move will pit YouTube Music head on against Spotify. The latter has been using podcasts and exclusives, such as Joe Rogan, to grow its audience and retain its current users.
“If someone wants to watch a podcast, we have a solution. If someone wants to listen to a podcast only, we should have a great experience for that as well,” says Chuk.
YouTube Music will allow free background listening to podcasts with free ads. And it offers enhanced library tools, Chuk said. It will also come with a podcast badge to distinguish audio-first shows.
YouTube hit the 80-million mark for subscribers last year for its Music and Premium services.
YouTube Premium covers both Music and ad-free YouTube. You would assume that this is a huge number. Still, it puts the service well below Spotify.
Spotify recently hit 200 million paid subscribers. In comparison, the main YouTube service has more than 2 billion users already. And it has proven to be a powerful discovery platform for podcasts in years to come.
The company is not yet looking at adding exclusive shows or licensed originals.
Chuk and Google podcasting lead Steve McLendon said the goal of adding podcasts to YouTube Music was to build great tools for the people making shows.
“Our focus is on creators, so as long as they find it successful and helpful, that’s success for us. We’re just focused on the YouTube users and ecosystem and bringing podcasts into that fold,” says Chuk.