Pandora has launched its new desktop app with lots of new features and controls. But podcasters may be most surprised by what’s not there: podcasts. The streaming service has put music at the forefront of the desktop redesign as podcasts remain a mobile-only feature for Pandora.
In a blog post announcing the app’s release, Pandora doesn’t explain why podcasts aren’t part of the content it is offering. It does say the new desktop app will feature controls that allow users to play, pause, replay, skip, shuffle, or thumb up/down songs right from their computer keyboard. The app also did away with the need to flip through browser tabs.
There are also app-based controls for its new Pandora Modes feature, which lets users customize the music they hear on their Pandora stations using selectable “modes” including Crowd Faves, Deep Cuts, Newly-Released, and Artist Only. Pandora says the Mac version of its desktop app is now available and the Windows version will soon follow.
While 65% of podcasts are consumed on a mobile device and 10% on a smart speaker, 25% are listened to on a computer or laptop, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital, leaving one-fourth of the pie off the table for Pandora.
The lack of podcast inclusion in the desktop Pandora app is especially surprising since the company in recent months has been taking several steps to grab a bigger share of on-demand audio listening. Pandoramade its move into podcasting last December when it announced it would offer more than 100,000 shows across a variety of genres. And then in the wake of its acquisition by SiriusXM Radio, Pandora announced last month that it would begin tapping the satellite radio company’s content to make a selection of satellite radio shows available to all Pandora listeners as podcasts. The crown jewel in SiriusXM’s lineup—Howard Stern—isn’t part of the podcast lineup. But more than 20 other satellite programs will become on-demand via Pandora across the entertainment, talk, comedy, music, and sports genres.
Pandora also created what it billed as the Podcast Genome Project to help listeners dig through that catalog. Similar to how its Music Genome Project serves music to listeners, the Podcast Genome Project is a cataloging system and discovery algorithm that uses a combination of technology and human curation. It relies on more than 1,500 attributes which include such things as production style, content type, host profile, timely and evergreen topics, and listener signals including thumbs, skips and replays, to deliver personalized podcast recommendations.
But even as the satellite company builds a podcast business, SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer has also said that how podcasting fits into consumer media habits needs to be kept in perspective. “Podcasting isn't a revolution. It's just an evolution of how spoken word is being delivered to customers in ways that they may want to enjoy that content,” Meyer said during a conference call with analysts last month. The company says it is looking to do more podcast partnerships with big media brands like TV channels, magazines, and sports leagues.
“We will continue to expand podcasting initiatives,” Meyer said. But he also admitted to analysts that how companies will make money from the medium remains unclear to him. “I don't think anybody's figured out the monetization question yet in podcasting,” he told analysts. “And on the other hand, we're just experimenting with it now.”