Can Audio On YouTube Ever Be Considered A Podcast?


As expected the report released by Westwood One this week that stated YouTube was a destination for podcasts caused some angst in the podcasting community. We reached out to the experts in the space to get their take.

First, to set the table, here’s the slide from the Westwood One report about YouTube.

We asked our expert panel the following question: Can audio on YouTube ever be considered a podcast? Here’s what they had to say:

VP of Podcaster Relations at Libsyn Rob Walch: The definition I have for a podcast is

Rob Walch

pretty straight forward. “The show has a valid RSS 2.0 Feed – and that feed is in Apple Podcasts” If a show does not have an RSS 2.0 Feed it is definitely NOT a podcast. For example any exclusive audio content on Spotify – is NOT a podcast.   Nor is any exclusive content on Luminary or anywhere else. And per Youtube – if the content is ONLY on Youtube it is DEFINITELY – POSITIVELY NOT A PODCAST. The logic behind my definition is that the content is readily available everywhere. And by submitting your podcast to Apple Podcasts – it then gets into Apple’s Public Directory that can and is scrapped by many other podcasts apps like Overcast, Pocketcasts, Castbox and more. But Content that is only on ONE specific platform – is NEVER to be considered a podcast – and yes that means ALL the “Exclusive Podcasts” on Spotify – are NOT podcasts.

Dan Franks

Podcast Movement President Dan Franks : I certainly think that it is fine for podcasts to also be distributed on YouTube, and if a podcast is consumed on YouTube then I would consider that a listen, similar to a listen on any pure audio platform. However if there is something that is on YouTube but not distributed via traditional podcast players, such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify, then to me it is simply a show on YouTube, and definitely not a podcast.

Tanner Campbell

Portland Pod’s Tanner Campbell: No. Never. Because words and definitions matter. Radio is not television, television is not film, podcasts aren’t radio, YouTube isn’t television, blog posts aren’t ebooks, and up isn’t north. YouTube is a platform for video. Podcasts are an audio medium. If you video record the production of your podcast you have a video for your YouTube channel – that’s not a podcast. It’s important to keep these things separate conceptually because of the differences between them as independent creative mediums (video and audio). It’s all media in the same way painting, sculpting, and drawing are all art, but they each require a different set of skills, a different approach to marketing, to production, a different set of tools, etc. It also doesn’t do us any favors, as far as podcasting PR goes, to be unclear on what 99.9% of us think of when we hear/say “podcast.”

Traci DeForge

Produce Your Podcast Founder Traci DeForge: If you are a purist a digital audio file is not a video file and therefore it is not a podcast. I am a purist. However, I always recommend using YouTube as a distribution platform for your podcast. This can absolutely be done by uploading your digital audio file to youtube and then you can leverage the 73% of people who discover podcasts on the internet* (Edison 2019). If you are uploading an mp.4 media file version of your podcast on YouTube then you are providing your audience with the opportunity to watch a video of your podcast.

Rob Greenlee

VP of Content and Partnerships at Libsyn Rob Greenlee Yes, but YouTube can really only be considered a podcast content listening platform that is capturing audio podcast episodes to redistribute for on-demand playback, not unlike what Spotify and Google Play Podcasts does with podcasts. But from a technical perspective YouTube does not get podcast content media files via RSS like Spotify, Google Play or Apple or any other primary podcast listening platforms. YouTube gets podcast content via API connection shares and audio files are converted into video files that are cached and are more like what Facebook or Twitter does via social media sharing. So bottom line is that podcast audio content on YouTube can be listened to, but is NOT an RSS-based podcasting distribution platform at all. This distinction is not really very important to listeners but it needs to be understood by podcast content creators.

Allyson Marino

Lipstick & Vinyl Founder Allyson Marino: A podcast is a podcast when the story is audio first. The audio must stand alone without the visual being required for understanding and enjoyment. On YouTube, sometimes podcasts will upload the audio only. In that case, YouTube is simply another distribution platform. And if a podcast uploads video taken while the audio was recorded, that counts too. A YouTube video alone is not a podcast, it is a YouTube video.

Evo Terra

Host of Podcast Pontification Evo Terra: YouTube is a big player in content discovery, so podcasters would be wise not to ignore it. While I think there are better ways podcasters can leverage video platforms, it’s perfectly valid to use YouTube as a distribution channel for your existing podcast episodes. Lots of video “views” happen from smartphones sitting upside down in a cup holder while the audio playing over the car’s speakers. And as YouTube pushes more on the “music” angle, that’s just more incentive to provide other audio content. You know… like podcasts.

Dave Jackson

Dave Jackson from The School of Podcasting: Trick question. Your spouse looks at you and says, “You don’t care about me like you did in the past.” You know this is not true, but because your spouse thinks it’s true – it is. A YouTube visitor can hear about podcasting and not understand that podcasts are delivered via RSS. They believe they are just content. A podcast is someone who is creating content. They watch a YouTube video and someone says, “Welcome to the podcast” (as they will repurpose the audio later) and their belief is verified. They feel they ARE watching a podcast. Because they THINK its a podcast – it is. Is it a podcast? No. Technically speaking a podcast must be delivered via an RSS feed and YouTube does not have an RSS feed. The viewer doesn’t care. They just like your stuff. Do you care less about your spouse than when you first met? Is a YouTube Video a podcast? No. But if they believe it to be true – it is. The solution? Educate them. That is a whole other ball game….In the end, we are all content creators.