YouTube (finally) enables RSS for podcasts; but no ads allowed. (Sort of) Questions abound.

YouTube has (belatedly) enabled RSS feed uploads of audio podcasts. This awaited feature is important because YouTube is commonly cited in listener surveys as a preferred platform for consuming podcasts. RSS is the foundational anatomy of podcast distribution which makes hooked-up shows appear in all podcast listening apps.

The announcement is plainly good news, eagerly awaited by the creator class. There is also uncertainty about details.

Podcaster Ashley Hamer Pritchard noted a peculiar statement in YouTube’s term sheet: “Podcast content that you upload to YouTube cannot contain advertisements, but your podcast can contain paid promotions like host-read promotions, sponsorships, or endorsements.”

We expect that confusion to be resolved in time. For now we suppose that YouTube does not want pre-produced and dynamically inserted ads. (Perhaps because they would conflict with YouTube’s own ad insertion.)

Other podcast producers wonder about unaddressed details such as whether YouTube does, or eventually will, include episode artwork, podcast chapters, and allowing podcast hosting platforms to collect YouTube consumption analytics. The sense is that YouTube’s belated entry is incomplete and basic. 

Podcast veteran Jay Green (SVP, Operations and Strategy) observed, “We’re now going backwards with rehosting.” Since dynamic ad insertion is not permitted (see above), listening data probably will not be fed back to the show’s host platform.

While there is much conjecture and few answers at this point, the YouTube action is being met with open-armed gladness mixed with some head-scratching. In the meantime, YouTube provides the announcement video below:

Brad Hill