Podcasting on YouTube

Podcasting on YouTube: 8 Things to Know Before You Start

YouTube is the most popular way of listening to podcasts, according to a study done last year by The University of Florida in partnership with Futuri Media. 

Podcasters have strong feelings on the topic of video podcasts since YouTube is a video platform not intended for audio content. 

Some think publishing audio content on a video platform is not respecting the differences between the two mediums. Podcasts are, by definition, downloadable audio files pushed to directories by an RSS feed, and they no longer fit this description when uploaded to YouTube.

Before we dive in, let's clarify what a YouTube video podcast is, and what it isn't.

Video podcasts feature footage of your show as you're recording it. It's simply your podcast put to video:

A video podcast is not a static image or moving waveform with audio laid over the top: 

YouTube podcasts without video do not see much success on YouTube, and usually have very low rates of listener engagement. For the purpose of this blog, a video podcast refers to footage of a podcast as it's being recorded.

Now that we're clear on the difference, how did YouTube become the most popular way to listen to podcasts? And should you spend your time producing content specifically for the video platform?

How YouTube became a way to stream podcasts

More than 30 million people visit YouTube every day, making it, by far, the most popular platform for streaming video, music, and podcasts as of 2020.

Chart showing YouTube is #1 destination for podcast consumption

YouTube's popularity is partly due to being easy and free to use (as long as you're willing to listen to a few ads). The platform has over one billion users worldwide and an audience base larger than Netflix, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes). 

Putting podcasts on YouTube began as a way for podcasters to reach a new audience they wouldn't have access to on podcast directories. People who prefer to watch video content might not seek out podcasts, so podcasters decided to bring the content to them.

But does putting your podcast on YouTube actually help grow your audience and expand the reach of your show? Should you spend your time and money creating content for YouTube, or invest it somewhere else?

Let's discuss the pros and cons of putting your show on a platform not intended for podcasts, and how you can use YouTube in the most effective way.

The pros of publishing your podcast on YouTube

A recent study shows people prefer Apple Podcasts for news and Spotify for comedy

People on YouTube, however, prefer entertainment, music, pop culture, and how-to videos. Lots of podcasts outside of these categories experience success on YouTube as well, so don't think yours can't succeed because of its genre. The point is, people go to YouTube for engaging video content.

Putting your podcast on YouTube has several potential benefits regardless of show category.

Pros of Youtube podcasts:

#1 Gives you access to a different audience who might not otherwise listen to your show

YouTube attracts an audience with different media preferences than podcast directories do, and has an audience base no podcast directory, or podcast network, can match. Tapping into a larger audience base means more potential listeners, and more opportunities to grow your show.

#2 You can interact with your audience in the comments section

It can be challenging to get your listeners to leave reviews and share feedback about your show in podcast directories. YouTube makes the process of engaging with your listeners much easier and provides close to real-time feedback on your podcast.

Interacting with your listeners allows you to build a relationship with them, and responding to comments is an excellent way to build rapport and find out what content your audience wants. 

#3 YouTube meta-data might help your search ranking on Google

YouTube SEO involves using the right tags, titles, and descriptions, as well as the use of transcripts, to make your channel rank higher in search engines.

Remember, YouTube is a search engine in itself and the second most trafficked site next to Google. Paying attention to your video's metadata can make your podcast more discoverable and more likely to be found by new listeners.

#4 YouTube Analytics offers data you can't get other places

Podcasters love to see their show's stats. The right data helps show hosts grow their podcasts and tailor it to meet the needs of their audience. 

Podcast data is limited, though, in what statistics it can (accurately) provide when a listener downloads or streams your show. 

Although your podcast host can give you valuable information regarding downloads, YouTube has access to more data points regarding who your audience is, how they found your show, and how long they listen to an episode.

YouTube Analytics line graph YouTube Analytics column graph and line graph

The cons of publishing your podcast on YouTube

There are objective benefits to pushing your podcast to different platforms, but do the benefits out-weigh the cons? Before adding another step in your podcasting workflow, it's important to know if it's worth your time, money, and energy.

#1 Lower listener engagement

People go to YouTube for entertainment. While podcast listeners are highly engaged and often listen to a full podcast episode, those watching your show on YouTube are more likely to stop listening early on. 

YouTube is a more passive media experience, and those who use the medium are more likely to stop listening to your video podcast if you don't hook them from the beginning, or if the content is too long.

Your YouTube analytics might reflect this drop-off phenomenon showing a high number of listeners who stop watching after the first few minutes of your episode.

#2 Possible low return on investment

While putting your podcast on YouTube can help your show's ranking in search engines, seeing success can take time.

YouTube uses multiple factors when it ranks a video's popularity:

  • Retention
  • Likes and comments
  • Subscriptions
  • Clickthrough rates 

If your video podcast isn't keeping the attention of your audience and resulting in comments and subscriptions, you won't see a significant benefit to putting your show on this platform.

#3 Requires more money & equipment (to do it well)

One of the appeals of podcasting is that it doesn't cost a lot of money to get started. 

Recording quality video footage of your podcast, however, takes time and equipment— if you want to do it well. Starting a YouTube channel can mean an investment of three to four times what it costs to start a podcast.

Recording a quality video podcast requires that you make videos that meet the minimum expectations of a viewer on YouTube. People on YouTube expect a certain quality of video, and low-quality content will likely reflect negatively in your analytics.

#4 YouTube Analytics are imperfect

When you put a podcast on YouTube, it's easy to focus on growing your number of "views" per episode. While YouTube analytics can be helpful for podcasters, they can also be deceiving and distracting. 

A viewer could watch your video for 30 seconds, and it would show up as a view. While a video podcast with 30,000 views seems impressive, what really matters is how long the viewer watched the video. It's better to have fewer viewers that stay engaged than thousands of viewers that stop watching within the first two minutes. 

Relying on YouTube's analytics can cause podcasters to get distracted from what makes podcasting so great—the freedom to produce content you are passionate about and attract a small, highly-engaged audience.

How to use YouTube to supplement your podcast 

It's best to think of YouTube as a way to supplement your podcast with additional material or highlights of your show.

Try breaking your show up into short clips that are more accessible to your audience, so it's easier for your audience to listen to all the way through. When your viewers watch your podcast video from start to finish, it benefits your show's ranking on YouTube and increases its discoverability. 

You can even create separate YouTube channels for your show's content. YouTubers Ethan and Hila Klein are the creators of H3H3 Productions and hosts of the highly successful H3 Podcast. The couple breaks up their video content into separate channels featuring whole episodes, highlight clips, and the host's personal YouTube channel. 

H3 Podcast's episode featuring Andrew Yang is nearly 90 minutes long. While there are viewers who will watch the entire show, you'll increase listener engagement if you give your audience options. By breaking up a long-form interview into 10-20 minute clips, you reach a wider audience and appeal to more viewers.

Recommended video equipment 

Most of the cons associated with putting a podcast on YouTube can be avoided by respecting the medium and giving the viewer what they want: entertaining video.

Instead of using a file converter or plugin designed to convert audio into video format, make your channel more appealing by uploading quality footage of you as you record your show.

You don't need a high-end camera to record your podcast, but your equipment should be good enough that viewers can easily watch your content without being distracted by its quality.

The Panasonic HC-V770K Full HD Camcorder is a good option for podcasters just starting out in video. You can record your audio as you usually would, and sync it with the audio in post-production. 

You can use Zoom.us for recording remote video interviews, but for quality audio, don't depend on your computer's built-in mic. Instead, we suggest using XLR or USB mics and monitor headphones from Audio Technica (available on Amazon).

Final thoughts

While YouTube is currently the most popular way to listen to podcasts, YouTube podcasts should meet the expectation of a video platform (i.e. your podcast should actually feature video)! Video podcasts should deliver high-quality content with engaging visuals and break up long-form content into shorter clips and segments.

Before deciding to put your podcast on YouTube, make sure you have the time and resources to do it well and invest in the equipment you need to produce quality videos. Make your YouTube channel a place where you engage with your audience and supplement your show with valuable video content.