Google Podcasts gets ready to hit the stop button

Google Podcasts has been shut down in the US – with users asked to move their subscriptions to YouTube Music – and it may not be long before India follows suit

Google Podcasts is hitting the stop button. The announcement on the winding up of the podcast app came in September last year. The service has not been available in the US since 2 April, and users were asked to migrate their subscriptions to YouTube Music, which seems like it will be Google’s prime “podcatcher” going forward. While Indian users can still access Google Podcasts on both app and web, multiple reports suggest it will not be long before other regions follow suit.

Launched in 2018, Google Podcasts has registered more than 500 million downloads on the Play Store. For me, it was an early introduction to the podcasting world through an app that was minimal design-wise and simple to use. It also had the option to add podcasts via an RSS feed. Six years down the line, I still have subscriptions to Reply All and Science Weekly on Google Podcasts. For Android users, this was perhaps the go-to app before Spotify entered India in 2019.

The 2024 Media Morph report released on 1 April by YouGov, a UK- based market research and data analytics firm, reveals that Google Podcasts is the second most popular podcast app with 20% of Indian users, after Spotify (at 44%). Audible (15%) comes in third. Spotify is popular among GenZ and has grown in the last two years, going from 33% in 2022 to 44% in 2024. Google Podcasts saw a drop, going from 24% to 20% in the same time span. Seven in 10 Gen-Z respondents said they listen to podcasts each week (71%) as compared to two-thirds of the overall urban Indian population (67%).

“Just like Apple Podcasts, which is native to iOS devices, there was a lot of hope when Google Podcasts came into the market because it was a native app on Android devices…. I know a few people who preferred Google Podcasts because of its clean interface and searchability. It also meant downloading one less app to listen to podcasts,” says Shaun Fanthome, producer and chief operating officer at Maed in India, a podcast production company and audio consultancy based in Mumbai.

Fanthome says the app’s analytics also helped creators access interesting data points. “On the creative side, some of the data analytics that Google could provide are still not available on other platforms. It used to give you impressions and searchability information… You could find keywords being used for your podcasts when someone searched for it,” says Fanthome. “YouTube Music is an excellent opportunity. The integration is great, YouTube being the second largest search engine in the world.”

If you are not a fan of YouTube Music, there are other podcast apps that can do the job: Spotify (for creators: Spotify for Podcasters, formerly known as Anchor), Pocket Casts, Overcast and Podbean Podcast App & Player, among others.

Delhi-based Razi Hasnain, who produces the Shuffling Notes podcast on music, has relaunched his podcasts in video format on YouTube. “But the most traffic I have seen comes from Spotify. Sometimes more than YouTube,” he says.

While Stitcher’s closure last year meant we are slowly witnessing the death of the podcast aggregator app, Google Podcasts now joins an unwanted list known among internet history enthusiasts as the “Google Graveyard”—a host of products shelved by the tech giant down the years: Google Play Music, YouTube Stories, Google Stadia and Google Duo and Hangouts. Remember those?

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