Spotify has been testing “video podcasts” since May, and now it is going all in on the marriage between audio and video. The company today announced it is unveiling the first version of its new video podcast feature with select podcasts. It will allow listeners in the U.S. and all other markets where Spotify distributes podcasts to listen or watch those podcasts as the feature rolls out — whichever they choose.
“Many podcast fans love watching their favorite podcasts as much as they enjoy listening to them. Through these visuals, fans can get to know their favorite podcast hosts even better, and creators can more deeply connect with their audiences,” the company said in the announcement. “The new feature allows select creators to bring both audio and video content to Spotify, enabling them to connect more meaningfully with their listeners, expand viewership, and deepen audience engagement. It’s a way to enrich the audio experience — for fans and creators alike.”
The seven podcasts that will be available in either audio or video include Book of Basketball 2.0, Fantasy Footballers, The Misfits Podcast, H3 Podcast, The Morning Toast, Higher Learning with Van Lathan & Rachel Lindsay and The Rooster Teeth Podcast.
The option to watch a video will be available for either mobile app users or people on a desktop. Spotify says the creator-made videos will start automatically and sync immediately with the audio feed. If they opt to use the video feed, they will be able to “lock” the play feature so as they jump between apps the video won’t stop playing. Spotify also says users will still be able to download the audio to their mobile devices to listen to shows on the go.
Spotify started to bridge the gap in May, when it began testing video-based podcasts with YouTube stars Zane Hijazi and Heath Hussar. For half the people who watched their Zane & Heath: Unfiltered podcast on its platform the video version was played, not the audio-only file. The three-episode test was being conducted worldwide. Spotify is already serving music videos to users for some songs.
The move to video comes as Edison Research data shows Americans are spending less of their total listening time with YouTube in 2020. The latest Share of Ear data from Edison Research shows Americans now spend 9% of their time spent listening to audio sources with YouTube. That is down from 11% in 2018. Edison reports the decrease is driven primarily by younger demos.
Edison reported in its annual Infinite Dial report that 44% of the total U.S. population aged 12 and older reported having used YouTube for music in the last week. That was down from what had been a milestone 50% level recorded in 2019. The Infinite Dial study also showed the decrease in reach was driven by younger demos.