Business News Digital Media

Spotify launches video podcast functionality

By | Published on Wednesday 22 July 2020


So what is a ‘podcast’ exactly? Is it just a radio-style programme that is available on-demand or to download? Or a radio-style show that is detached from a conventional radio station? Or is it specifically a spoken word programme rather than a music-based programme? Or – if you want to get really geeky – should you only use the term when a multi-media file is delivered via RSS?

No one really knows. But the one thing we can all agree on is this: a podcast is audio. Glorious marvellous audio. All hail audio!

Oh look, Spotify has just launched video podcasts. Fuck you, Spotify. “Through these visuals fans can get to know their favourite podcast hosts even better and creators can more deeply connect with their audiences”. No they can’t, Spotify. Fuck off, Spotify.

Of course plenty of podcasters already post their content to YouTube and some film themselves recording their programmes because, well, you know, YouTube is a video platform and works best when you post video. Well, that’s what people always say. I’ve never consumed a podcast on YouTube that wouldn’t have worked just as well with a static image. Because, you know, a podcast is an audio medium. Did I mention that?

And, OK, some people have experimented with video podcasts that are more than just webcam footage of people sitting in front of a microphone. But they’ve never really taken off.

Partly because, if you’re using a podcast app to play a continuous feed of shows you’re subscribed to while you’re out and about, it’s annoying to have to stop and look at a video. Or more likely, skip that video so you can get to the next audio-only podcast as quickly as possible. Because, and I think we all agree on this now, podcasts are an audio medium.

However, with nine million people subscribed to Joe Rogan’s YouTube channel, presumably Spotify feels it needs to start offering a load of video nonsense around its podcasts now that it’s spent all that money securing the exclusive rights to his tedious-but-popular podcast interviews. And at least they’ve made it so that you can dip in and out of the video element, so that on your phone you can open up other apps or lock your device without the audio being interrupted. Lovely.

The new feature will be available on select podcasts initially. If it’s anything like Spotify’s past dabblings with video content, it will soon be buried deep in the app and no one will speak about it ever again. Though brands generally spend more money when video is involved, and assuming Spotify is hoping to recoup at least some of the millions it is currently spending on podcast content via brand deals, maybe it will have an incentive to really push the video element on the podcast side.

So there you go, Spotify, once a “music” company, then an “audio” company, now an “audio with some video nonsense thrown in” company”.

But please remember, it’s only really a podcast when it’s audio. If you’re wondering what that’s like, here is a proper audio podcast streaming on Spotify.