Toronto Mike

What Is A Podcast?

Although we didn't know it for sure at the time, I attended an in-person event at Twitter Canada's HQ in late October of 2022 that ended up being the very last Twitter Canada event. Shortly thereafter, new owner Elon Musk gutted the place, removing the entire marketing department, thus ending all such Twitter Canada gatherings at the King and Strachan office.

At this October event, I met Adam Seaborn. I had previously met Adam on Zoom when he guested on Hebsy on Sports, a show I co-host, but I don't have to tell you the difference between meeting someone in-person and meeting someone virtually.

This morning, Adam tweeted that YouTube was the #1 platform for podcast consumption.

I replied that YouTube isn't a podcast aggregator, so anyone who consumes podcasts via YouTube aren't actually consuming a podcast, but they're watching a video uploaded or live streamed to YouTube. This begs the question... what is a podcast?

As someone who produces many podcasts, the answer is very clear in my mind. A podcast is syndicated audio that one subscribes to via a podcast aggregator. Some popular podcast aggregators are Spotify, Google, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Podcast Addict... heck, there are literally a hundred such podcatchers. This syndication is key. It's what separates a podcast from audio.

YouTube, is not a podcast aggregator. It's a stand-alone proprietary video platform. If someone "drops a podcast", they're essentially making an audio file available on a public web server and updating their syndication mechanism, which is essentially an XML file. Podcast aggregators have this XML file indexed and periodically check it (hopefully in real-time!) for changes to that file. To put that same podcast on YouTube means repurposing the content in video form and uploading it to your YouTube channel. YouTube will not read your XML!

The intent of this post is not to be pedantic, nor is it to shame those who consume their audio content on YouTube, it's simply to say that it's not fair to compare YouTube to Apple Podcasts when discussing podcasting platforms. YouTube is not a podcasting platform.

That's not my opinion, that's simply a fact.

Update: The best part of podcasting is the open source nature of it all. Nobody owns XML. You and I could launch a new podcast app tomorrow. YouTube, meanwhile, doesn't care one iota about your XML, and if you want to be available there, you have to put a video file on their proprietary platform. Fill yer boots, just don't call it a podcast. That's offensive.

Author image
About Toronto Mike
I own TMDS and host Toronto MIke'd. Become a Patron.